Written By: Elena White
Article Date: May 12, 2012 - 9:02:54 PM
Wild reports are circulating this Tuesday in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a over claims that al-Qaeda militants in Yemen were planning to bomb a U.S plane using yet another underwear bomber in a bid to bring its fight to American soil.
The Associated Press released on Monday a news story which related how the CIA thwarted a plot by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen, revealing that the extremists were planning to use a new generation bomb to mark the anniversary of the death of their former leader, Ossama bin Laden.
Senior Yemeni officials admitted under cover of anonymity that they had no knowledge what so ever of such a plan, nor did the American Intelligence Services provide them with data as to how they uncovered the plot or came about having knowledge of it.
Officials have said to be angered over such secrecy, especially when it was Yemen National Security which was standing at the balance, stressing the counter-terrorism was a matter of cooperation in between countries not a unilaterally American operation.
“The Pentagon expects Yemen to share its data and allow a free flow of intelligence as well as coordinating its attacks against al-Qaeda with the U.S while the CIA chooses to hold back. How are we supposed to understand “collaboration” in the light of such events?” said a politician under cover of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Other officials said that the incident was tarnishing Yemen’s public image and its credibility in its fight against terrorism, stressing that President Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi should act according to Yemen’s interests from now on as clearly the Americans were seeking their own, caring little for the damages they were inflicting their “partners”.
In reaction to revelations that the CIA had knowledge of bomb plot but preferred to retain the information for its own benefit, acting alone, the Yemeni Interior Minister said “I will not allow Yemen to be the next Waziristan, [referring to the bordering area between Pakistan and Afghanistan where U.S. bombarded for years in its war against terror].”
Although high ranking officials said they knew of several plans to ‘celebrate” the death of late Ossama bin Laden they stressed that never were they made aware of such an elaborated plot to carry on an attack on America.
According to an official statement made by the Yemeni embassy in Washington: “U.S. media sources informed the Media Attaché in Washington that one of the security / intelligence that helped the CIA in the detection of an explosive device was a British intelligence service, "MA6". The sources said that another security system most likely to be a European one also helped uncover clues in the process. The speculation first refers to the role of Saudi intelligence in the process. And media sources have linked the arrest of apparatus of Belgian citizens of Arab origin “Ezzeddine Thiri and Ibrahim Bali “in Sanaa during the month of April to the process itself. The sources said the terrorist was planning to travel to Gatwick Airport from Sana'a International Airport, or a regional airport and then blow up the plane in U.S. airspace. But Western intelligence monitored the movements of terrorist and arrested him before he entered the airport. The sources confirmed that the terrorist Ibrahim al-Asiri is one who planed and built the bomb in his underwear. The sources added that al-Asiri built bombs and the U.S. authorities fear that the other elements to target other aircraft that is why Washington has sent hundreds of officers from the Air Marshal Service (secret police) to airports in Europe. The sources noted that the U.S. authorities are looking for a European citizen of Somali origins who may be suicidal too...”
Yemenis are already reacting to the news with cries of outrage, accusing the White House of “using” their country as a slaughtering ground against al-Qaeda, saying there was no collaboration at all and that all was a lie aimed at gaining the public trU.S.t.
“American should just butt out and leave us alone. We can fight al-Qaeda ourselves, we do not need foreign powers to come in and invade our air space,” said a retired General.
Amidst the announcement by a top U.S. official that the terror plot had been foiled thanks to the intervention of a mole who had infiltrated al-Qaeda, John Brennan, the White House counter-terrorism chief advisor told the press that the bomb had never “been an active threat”, emphasizing that the CIA had been fully in control of the situation at all times.
The bomb is now said to be examined by the FBI in Quantico, Virginia.
"Now we're trying to make sure that we take the measures that we need to prevent any other type of IED [improvised explosive device], similarly constructed, from getting through security procedures," Brennan said.
A U.S. intelligence official said the latest device bore the "hallmarks" of the 2009 underwear bomb, which was built by the Saudi militant Ibrahim Al-Asiri.
“It seems it is an improved model, with a more effective detonation system; it has no metal parts and probably would not have been detected by most airport security magnetometers,” said an American official, refusing to disclose his identity for he was not allowed to speak to the press.
It is not even clear if it would have been found by the body scanners that have been installed in some U.S. airports after that attempted attack three years ago.
In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security said air security would continue to incorporate threat and vulnerability analysis, pre-screening and screening of passengers, as well as random searches at airports, air marshals and other unspecified security measures.
More disturbing for the Yemeni government, it seems that several foreign Intelligence Agencies, amongst which the Saudi were aware of the bomb plot, not deeming necessary to alert Sana’a or their Yemeni counterparts.
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