|British secret agent was al Qaeda mole who cracked new 'underpants' bomb plot|
|A British undercover agent infiltrated al-Qaeda, volunteered to be a suicide bomber and smuggled out the latest version of the deadly underpants bomb, it can be disclosed. The man, who risked his life to get close to al-Qaeda's master bomb-maker in the Yemen, is of Saudi origin but holds a British passport, sources told the Daily Telegraph.|
MI5 recruited the agent for an operation in which the CIA planned to target the bomb-maker with a missile from an unmanned drone. MI6 then worked with the Saudis who have previously infiltrated al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP), based in Yemen.
The individual was sent to target Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the ruthless Saudi-born bomb-maker for AQAP. He infiltrated the terrorist group, risking execution if he was discovered, and volunteered to be a suicide bomber.
Two weeks ago, the agent walked away from al-Qaeda with the device he was supposed to use in an attack on US-bound aircraft. He traveled to the United Arab Emirates and then to Saudi Arabia, with the device before handing it over to his British handlers.
He was also able to give information which led to a CIA drone strike on Sunday which killed Fahd al-Quso, AQAP's director of external operations.
However al-Asiri was not there and remains at large, frustrating efforts to kill him. The mission is particularly sensitive because British agents are not supposed to give "targeting information" for lethal operations.
The underpants device was handed to the FBI laboratories in Quantico, Virginia, which examined a similar device used by Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab on a trans-Atlantic airliner to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.
The FBI has discovered that Asiri had refined the prototype he first developed for use by his own brother in a suicide operation three years ago so that it could be detonated in two separate ways.
The British security services are thought to be unhappy that their role has become known, fearing it may jeopardise the recruitment of future agents who are given anonymity even after they die by the service. Whitehall sources refused to comment.
|Home Front: WoT|
|Al-Quso Tied to Foiled Bomb Plot|
A previous attempt, with a bomb made by AQAP bomb-maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, had failed on Christmas Day 2009, when the bomber, Umar Faruq Abdulmuttalab, failed to detonate the device that had been hidden in his underwear.
In April, their plot, based in Yemen, was detected by intelligence sources. American and other intelligence agencies were, sources said, on top of the plot from the beginning and closely monitoring it. Early last month White House counterterrorism czar John Brennan told President Obama about the plot.
"The device has the hallmarks of previous AQAP bombs that the group used in the failed assassination attempt on Saudi security official Mohammed Bin Nayif and that it used in the failed 2009 Christmas Day bombing," the government official said. "The device, like those earlier devices, is non-metallic."
"It is clear that AQAP is revamping its bomb techniques to try to avoid the causes of the failure of the 2009 device," that official said. "We are confident that the study of the device will yield valuable insights that will aid us in adapting security practices and counterterrorism operations here and abroad."
The IED is in the hands of
|Allegedly killed in Yemen al-Qaeda's bomb maker alive|
|Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, a Saudi national who according to the American Intelligence services was al-Qaeda's official bomb makers would have reappear after the Pentagon announced his death last September 30 following an air strike against the group. Declared dead at the time alongside Anwar al-Awlaki, the group's leader, US intelligence officials fear that the man used his unexpected "death" to go further underground, plotting further attacks against American interests.|
Al-Asiri is believed to have engineered the bomb which almost claimed Prince Mohammad bin Nayef, the Saudi deputy Interior Minister's life in 2009 when Ibrahim's brother blew himself up.
The FBI has a fingerprint and forensic evidence linking al-Asiri to one of the explosive devices used in attempted attacks on the U.S. It's not clear who provided the FBI with the original fingerprint used to match the one lifted from the underwear bomb. But it probably came from Saudi Arabia, where al-Asiri and his brother were arrested for their involvement in an Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist cell. They were released and later fled to Yemen in 2006.
Several counterterrorism officials in Yemen are on the alert as Ossama bin Laden's death anniversary is approaching, fearing that the Islamic militants would want to make a public display. Amidst renewed tensions in Yemen in between Ansar al-Sharia, an offshoot of al-Qaeda and the armed forces, as the two battle for control of Abyan, a southern province, several security analysts encourage caution.
"However, we assess that AQ's affiliates and allies remain intent on conducting attacks on the homeland, possibly to avenge the death of bin Laden, but not necessarily tied to the anniversary," Carney said, referring to Al-Qaeda.
|Top Al-Qaeda Bomb Maker In Yemen Resurfaces|
|When a drone strike killed one of the leaders of al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen last year, US intelligence officials thought they also had wiped out the terrorist group's top bomb maker.|
Soon it became apparent that Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the brains behind sophisticated bombs that have been used in attempts to attack the US, was still alive. Al-Asiri went underground, knowing the US was after him, particularly after the US killed , one of the Yemen group's top leaders.
|Qaeda parcel bomb 17 minutes from blast: France|
|[Al Arabiya] One of two al-Qaeda bombs intercepted last week part way between Yemen and the United States was disarmed just 17 minutes before it was programmed to detonate, a French minister said Thursday.|
Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux did not say which of the two parcel bombs found last Thursday at airports in Dubai and Britain was so close to exploding, nor what his source of the information was.
"There were parcel bombs from Yemen heading for the United States, and I can tell you, for example, that one of these parcels was disarmed 17 minutes before the planned ," he told France 2 television.
Hortefeux made the remark during a more general discussion of the threat of attacks on France and was not pressed for more information.
Packages addressed to synagogues in Chicago and holding the hard-to-detect explosive PETN hidden in ink toner cartridges were uncovered in Dubai and Britain last week, sparking a global security alert.
Washington believes the parcel bombs were the work of Saudi Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, a suspected al-Qaeda bombmaker, and British officials have said they were powerful enough to bring down a plane in flight.
|Germany blocks air freight traffic from Yemen|
|[Daily Nation (Kenya)] Germany will no longer accept air freight from Yemen, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere announced today after parcel bombs from the country were found on US-bound cargo flights.|
"The federal government assures that from now no freight coming from Yemen will arrive in Germany," the minister said. France's civil aviation authority announced earlier that it had suspended air freight from Yemen in the wake of the interception of two parcel bombs in Dubai and Britain.
the same person constructed the Yemen parcel bombs and the device worn by the "underwear" bomber who botched an attack over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, the US counter-terrorism chief said Sunday. "I think that the indications are right now based on forensic analysis that the individual responsible for putting these devices together is the same," John Brennan told ABC's "This Week" news program.
Authorities have said two parcels discovered on cargo planes in Dubai and central England late Thursday after a tip-off from contained explosives and were intended to bring the aircraft down.
Britain's Sunday Telegraph newspaper and The Washington Post said investigators were focusing on a Saudi Al-Qaeda explosives expert based in Yemen, 28-year-old Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. Pictured left is the home of one of the suspects Hanan al-Samawi, who was the previous day.
|U.S. Reports: Saudi Bomb Maker Believed to Be Main Suspect in Mail Terror Plots|
|[Yemen Post] A Saudi bombmaker is believed to be involved in the mail bombs that were shipped through Yemen and were intercepted while on their way to the U.S. in London and Dubai, U.S. media citing an official reported on Sunday.|
Ibrahim Hassan al Asiri, on top of a Saudi most-wanted terrorist list and a brother of a who tried to eliminate senior Saudi counterterrorism official Prince Muhammad Bin Nayef last year, is thought to be one of the main suspects in the explosive parcels aimed at two places of Jewish worship in Chicago, reports said.
Asiri, also believed to be involved in 2009 Christmas Day plot, is working with Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula AQAP, they said, pointing out that the U.S. authorities have closely been watching him after information about his experience in making explosives.
There were signs the Saudi national produced the Christmas Day plot bomb and the bombs used to kill prince Muhammad Bin Nayef, they added.
After the parcels that triggered high alert in the United States and the UK were seized on Friday morning, the U.S. said the mail plots bore the hallmarks of AQAO, which the U.S. has recently said is more dangerous than the main Al-Qaeda group of Bin Laden.
|Yemenis protest mail bomb arrest|
|[Arab News] Students protested in Yemen on Sunday against the arrest of a co-student suspected of sending a postal package containing explosives to the United States.|
Governments, airlines and aviation authorities around the world are reviewing security after two mail bombs sent from Yemen were intercepted on planes in Dubai and Britain on Friday.
Yemeni police the woman, believed to be in her 20s, after tracing her through a telephone number she had left with a cargo company. The student and her mother were the first people to be in connection with the foiled bomb plot.
Dozens of students staged a sit-in in the courtyard of Sanaa University's engineering faculty calling for her release. "I don't think anyone would carry out a major operation like this and leave behind their real contact details ... I think she's the victim of a conspiracy," student Muhammad Al-Bazili said.
A US official said a Saudi bombmaker believed to be working with Al-Qaeda's Yemen-based wing is a key suspect. Ibrahim Hassan Al-Asiri, who figures on a Saudi list of wanted terrorists, is the brother of a killed in a bid last year to assassinate Assistant Minister of Interior for Security Affairs Prince Mohammed bin Naif.
|AQAP printer cartridge bomb round-up from the Western press|
In typical Wall Street Journal style, they have a useful slideshow (photos of the device, AQAP bomb-maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri of Saudi Arabia, young moving black objects (MBOs) protesting the arrest of classmate Miss Hanan al-Samawi, age 22, an engineering student at Sana'a University, and Yemeni soldiers patrolling the streets) and an interactive graphic of what was found where... and the previous stops.
This may have been a rehearsal rather than an actual attack.
(10/31) WSJ:Packages May Have Been Sent by Militants Linked to Language Schools
Same interactive graphic as above article. The two Yemeni arrestees are Miss Hanan al-Samawi and her mother. The father is Mohammed Al-Samawi, an engineer at the Ministry of Agriculture and Water. Miss al-Samawi's telephone number and a photocopy of her photo i.d. card were submitted with the packages to the shipper. Her lawyer, a specialist in human rights, said that a person who would send such things wouldn't leave his own phone number and i.d..
Authorities (experts?) say the design of the bomb is quite sophisticated, possibly the work of AQAP chief bomb-maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who made the bomb that so maimed that poor Pantibomber last Christmas. The powerful explosive, PETN, is very hard to detect, even with X-ray machines or sniffer dogs. The toner cartridges contain 4-6 times as much explosive as the Pantibomber's underpants had done.
From the article:
Investigators believe both of the packages were shipped by individuals with possible links to the Yemen American Institute for Languages-Computer-Management, known as YAI, or the American Center for Training and Development, or ACT, officials said.
The names of the school aren't well known in Sana'a, which has an abundance of language and technical training institutes that use the word "American" in their titles.
(10/30) Ay Pee: Al Qaeda Connected to Yemeni Language Institutes
The bombs were powerful enough to take down the airplanes carrying them. More suspects beyond Miss Hanan al-Samawi are being sought in Yemen. The bombs were wired to cell phones, timers, and power supplies, but it is not clear that they could have been set off from a distance. There is some question whether it was actually Miss al-Samawi who actually deposited the packages with the shipper. PETN is an industrial explosive. The original tip came from Saudi Arabia.
[A]uthorities believed the plotters may have been associated with two institutions called "Yemen American Institute (for) Languages-Computer-Management" or the "American Center for Training and Development." It was not immediately clear whether those institutions even exist or whether that information came from false documents or fake addresses.
10/30 [UK] Daily Mail: Bomb discovered on jet in UK following MI6 tip-off
In Britain they are referred to as "printer bombs" because the toner cartridges were actually in computer printers, not free-standing. Photos of the complete devices at the link for your perusal. Several accomplices are being searched for in Yemen, accused of using forged documents and ID cards and having links to AQAP. Prime Minister Cameron believes the devices were designed for a Lockarbie-type mid-air explosion. A Home Secretary Theresa May said the device was not a dummy after all. Direct flights from Yemen were suspended in January after the excitements caused by the Pantibomber, now indirect shipments from Yemen to/through Britain should be suspended. Yemeni authorities are currently searching for 24 other packages. PETN is pentaerythritol trinitrate, previously used by the Pantibomber and also in 2001 by Richard Reid, the shoebomber. A mere 100g of PETN can destroy a car.
Police in Dubai said the device there contained an electric circuit linked to a mobile phone chip as well as the compound lead azide, which can be used in detonators. Dubai Police said: 'The parcel was prepared in a professional manner where a closed electrical circuit was connected to a mobile phone SIM card hidden inside the printer.'
(10/31) [UK] Express: SECONDS FROM LOCKERBIE II
The alert was triggered by intelligence from a unit of GCHQ surveillance experts stationed in Afghanistan, the Sunday Express can reveal. Operating from a converted shipping container in Helmand, the team picked up the words "A wedding gift is being delivered".
The phrase is an Al Qaeda code meaning a bomb is in transit.
With the help of Saudi agents, GCHQ alerted MI6, which raised the alarm in London and Washington.
SAS troops have now been sent to the Haraz Mountains surrounding San'a to hunt the terrorists responsible for sending the devices. They are being backed by a small team of MI6 agents.
(20/31) MSNBC: Female suspect was set up
Hanan al Samawi is either a 5th year computer science major or a computer engineering student. Her father is an oil engineer. Her friends and neighbors say that, although pious, she was not active in politics or religion. Investigators in the UAE say there is no connection to the UPS plane that crashed in September, which showed no evidence of an explosion. PETN was also used by the suicide bomber who failed in his attempt to kill a top Saudi counter-terrorism official last year.
|Yemen parcel bombmaker believed to be al Qaeda terrorist Ibrahim Hassan Al Asiri|
|The man believed to have made the parcel bombs is Ibrahim Hassan Al Asiri, a Yemen-based terrorist described as one of the most ruthless and fanatical of all al Qaeda's followers. |