The recently uncovered al-Qaida plot to take down a U.S.-bound airliner took a dramatic turn Tuesday: It turns out that the would-be bomber who was chosen to carry out the mission was actually an informant for the CIA. The double agent was the one who ultimately exposed the terrorist plot, which was conceived in Yemen, before it was able to be carried out. —TEB
The Los Angeles Times:
Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, working closely with the CIA, used an informant to pose as a would-be suicide bomber. His job was to convince the Al Qaeda franchise in Yemen to give him a new kind of non-metallic bomb that the militants were designing to easily pass through airport security.
But the double agent instead arranged to deliver the explosive device to U.S. and other intelligence authorities waiting in another country, officials said Tuesday. The agent is now safely outside Yemen and is being debriefed.
An unidentified Yemeni government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the supposed suicide bomber was working for Western intelligence “from day one.”
The insider also provided information that allowed the U.S. to launch a Predator drone strike that killed the group’s operations chief, senior U.S. officials told NBC News earlier Tuesday.
“It was managed so that it was not a threat,” said one senior Obama administration official, who like the others spoke on condition of anonymity. “We were confident that we had inside control over any plot that might have been associated with this device.
“The device never got near an airplane. To our knowledge, it never got near an airplane or airport.”