Agence France-Presse

CIA thwarts bomb plot near bin Laden's one-year anniversary

In this handout government image provided by ABC news, the underwear with the explosive worn by alleged bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is all that remains of a failed attempt to down a flight over Detroit on December 28, 2009. The CIA reportedly thwarted another plot involving a bomb concealed in underwear on a plane that was to coincide with Osama bin Laden's death anniversary around May 2, 2012.
Credit: Handout

The CIA thwarted a plot by Al Qaeda's Yemen affiliate to bomb a US-bound airplane around the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, the Associated Press reported.

A counter-terrorism official tells CBS News a device was recovered and it has the hallmarks of previous devices used by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The work is believed to be that of bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri.

US officials said the plot was an improvement on the design used by the underwear bomber around Christmas 2009 on an airplane near Detroit.

The new bomb was also stored in the would-be suicide bomber's underwear, said the AP.

Officials said the bomber was told to buy a ticket and decide the time of the attack, but it remained unclear what happened to the bomber.

The AP reported that the FBI was now examining the bomb to see if it could have passed airport security, because it contained no metal for metal detectors to pick up on.

More on GlobalPost: Osama bin Laden's letters, documents reveal rifts in Al Qaeda

The AP reportedly learned of the foiled plot last week but conceded to requests from the White House and CIA not to report it immediately due to security concerns.

A senior US official told CBS News "we disrupted this plot well before it was ever a threat to the United States." And added, that at no time was any airplane or passengers in danger from the plot.

On bin Laden's death anniversary, Graham Allison, who served as the assistant secretary of defense under the Clinton administration, noted that secrecy matters in issues of national defense. "The bin Laden case demonstrates why success requires discovering secrets, allowing a president time to reflect on them in private, and permitting him to reach a decision and act — unbeknownst to the watchful eye of the Washington press corps — thus finding ways to expand a zone of privacy for presidential decision-making on other major national security issues," Allison wrote in GlobalPost.

More on GlobalPost: US drone strike in Yemen kills top Al Qaeda operative, wanted by FBI over Cole bombing

According to the AP, the Obama administration is expected to make an official announcement on Tuesday.

Earlier today, reports emerged of an Al Qaeda leader in Yemen, connected to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, being killed in an airstrike. The BBC reported that Al Qaeda and Yemen's embassy had confirmed Fahd al-Quso's death.

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.

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