FBI Experts Examining Al Qaeda's Upgraded 'Underwear Bomb'

 @LauraMatt
on May 08 2012 11:06 AM

FBI experts are now in possession of an unexploded bomb that al Qaeda assembled with the intention of blowing up a U.S.-bound airliner, and are examining the device.

Explosives experts are conducting technical and forensic analysis on the improvised explosive device to see if there was the possibility of it slipping past airport security and downing a commercial jet, according to CBS.

Authorities said the bomb seized is a more sophisticated version of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate aboard a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas 2009.

Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations, a statement from the FBI's National Press Office read. The device never presented a threat to public safety, and the U.S. government is working closely with international partners to address associated concerns with the device.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN that the bomb plot is linked to Sunday's death of Fahd al Quso. Quso, a senior AQAP operative, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen.

I was told by the White House they are connected, they're part of the same operation, and that's why I said this operation is still ongoing, he said.

The nonmetallic device could have passed through airport security without setting off a metal detector. But it is unknown at this time if the new body scanners that are in place at many airports could have detected it.

Advanced Imaging Technology

The Transportation Security Administration began developing advanced imaging technology in 2007 to determine various types of threats to passengers and crews. These types of technologies screen passengers for both metallic and nonmetallic threats, which include weapons and explosives. The screening devices also have the ability to check for other concealed objects underneath clothing without physical contact.

TSA uses two types of imaging technology: millimeter wave and backscatter. With the millimeter waves, electromagnetic waves are bounced off the body to create a generic image of each passenger. The backscatter uses low-level X-rays over the body to generate the body's reflection on a display monitor.

According to the TSA, more than 600 of these new scanners are now in place at approximately 170 airports.

Bin Laden's Death Increases Terror Threat

U.S. authorities warned last week that the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death (May 2) could see increased terror threats to Americans worldwide. Both federal and local law enforcement were on alert though they said there were no indications of a credible threat or plot.

U.S. Navy SEALs killed bin Laden during a raid of his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011. Al Qaeda has vowed revenge. Since 2009, the U.S. and it allies have been on the lookout for body bombs -- explosive devices that are implanted in the stomach and are difficult to detect.

It is believed that Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, an al Qaeda bomb maker in Yemen, has perfected the making of body bombs. Asiri has been accused of outfitting his younger brother with the same kind of bomb in 2009 during the failed assassination of Saudi Prince Muhammed bin Nayif, the country's counterterrorism chief. The attacker died.

Yemen Insider Foils U.S.-Bound Bomb Plot

U.S. officials told the media that the recent plot by al Qaeda to attack the U.S.-bound plane was thwarted by an insider who infiltrated an al Qaeda-linked terror cell.

White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan has said that the bomb was never an active threat.

Brennan credited very close cooperation with our international partners for the bomb seizure.

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