CIA unraveled bomb plot from within (Washington Post)
Wednesday May 9th, 2012
The latest al-Qaeda bomb plot targeting U.S. aircraft was unraveled from inside the terrorist group by operatives — including an agent who posed as a willing suicide bomber — working on behalf of the CIA and its counterparts in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, said U.S. and Middle Eastern officials.
The Saudi intelligence service played a particularly important role in penetrating al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen and recovering the explosive device, according to officials, who described an elaborate espionage operation in which the CIA tracked the bomb’s movements for weeks and then killed suspected plotters in a drone strike after the device was seized.
Senior U.S. officials continued to withhold certain details, including the location and status of the individual — described by officials as a Saudi informant — who penetrated the terrorist group posing as a bomber and then turned over the device to authorities after leaving Yemen.
But comments by White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan and others made it clear that the involvement of the CIA and its partners went well beyond simply watching the plot unfold.
“We’re confident that neither the device nor the intended user of this device posed a threat to us,” Brennan said in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “We had the device in our control, and we were confident that it was not going to pose a threat to the American public.”