Posted by on May 10, 2012 in Blog

By Danielle Malaty

This week, an individual who was allegedly selected by al-Qaeda in Yemen to release explosives on a US-bound airliner using an underwear bomb ended up being a CIA agent, according to reports in US media.

The CIA agent was working for both the United States and the Saudi Arabian intelligence agencies and was able to infiltrate al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Sources say he even volunteered for the suicide mission

US officials leaked details of the intelligence coup two days after the White House announced the suspected bomb plot had been successfully thwarted.  While maintaining the condition of anonymity, US officials have assured the public that the informant was safely out of Yemen.

The undercover CIA agent managed to stay with AQAP for three weeks before giving intelligence to the US, allowing the US to launch a drone strike on Sunday that killed Fahd al-Quso, a senior figure who was wanted for the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.

A senior US official said that a bomb for the potential attack was hemmed into custom made underwear that would have been hard to detect even in a meticulous pat-down at an airport. Officials said the device was build as an upgrade from the bomb that failed to detonate on board an airplane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

The CIA and other government agencies declined to make further comments on the reports when contacted by AFP news agency. Al Jazeera's John Terrett, reporting from Washington, said there has been very limited comment on this incident from the Obama administration. Although officials touted the disrupted plot as a success, they maintain that AQAP is still determined to strike against Western interests.

Security procedures at US airports remained unchanged, a clear indication of both the US confidence in its security procedures and a recognition that the Americans shouldn’t fear that they will eventually endure much more scrutiny at airports.

"I would not expect any real changes for the travelling public," said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers. "There is a concern that overseas security doesn't match ours. That's an ongoing challenge."

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