May 7th, 2012
06:09 PM ET

Official: Attempt to blow up plane thwarted

Editor's note: U.S. and international intelligence agencies have broken up an attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound jetliner, a U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN. Follow further developments here.

[Updated at 6:09 p.m. ET] A U.S. official told CNN the plot was disrupted "well before it was ever a threat to the United States.”

The official added that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was the group responsible for the plot.

"We believe AQAP produced the device, and we believe it was intended to be used by a suicide bomber on an aircraft," the official said. "The device and the plot are consistent with what we know about AQAP’s plans, intentions, and capabilities. They remain committed to striking targets in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, the Homeland, and Europe. And AQAP is probably feeling pressure to conduct a successful attack to, from their perspective, avenge the deaths of Bin Laden and (Anwar al-Awlaki).”

Terrorist's death signals U.S-Yemen cooperation

The official added, as others have, that the device has the hallmarks of their previous bombs including the failed assassination attempt on Saudi security official Mohammed Bin Nayif as well as the failed 2009 Christmas Day bombing.

"While similar, a preliminary review of this device shows that it has some significant differences from the device used in the Christmas day attack," the U.S. official said. "It is clear that AQAP is revamping its bomb techniques to try to avoid the causes of the failure of the 2009 device."

The official said the FBI was thoroughly examining the device.

The U.S. official added it believed that the threat from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is due in part to territorial gains they were able to make during Yemen's political standoff in early 2011.

"Those territorial gains have allowed the group to establish additional training camps," the official said.

[Updated at 5:58 p.m. ET] Defense Secretary Leon Panetta confirmed the plot during a press conference on an unrelated issue.

"What this incident makes clear is that this country has to continue to remain vigilant against those that would seek to attack this country," Panetta said. "We will do everything necessary to keep America safe"

[Updated at 5:36 p.m. ET] CNN Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank says one of the key things officials will be looking at is the exact make-up of the device and how it may be similar or different to the device used in the attempted bombing of an airliner in 2009.

Cruickshank said the suspect in the 2009 attempt, dubbed the "underwear bomber" wore the device for a long time as he traveled throughout Africa and it may have become desensitized. Tests on this device may allow officials to learn more about what changes al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula may have been made following the failed bombing.

Al Qaeda's biggest threat: al Asiri

[Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET] Matt Chandler, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, released a statement saying that they had no specific threat about an active plot against the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security statement added that the incident showed that enemies still have a high interest in targeting air transportation, which underscores the continued need for increased security at airports.

The statement reads:

“We have no specific, credible information regarding an active terrorist plot against the U.S. at this time, although we continue to monitor efforts by al-Qaeda and its affiliates to carry out terrorist attacks, both in the Homeland and abroad. Since this IED demonstrates our adversaries’ interest in targeting the aviation sector, DHS continues, at the direction of the President, to employ a risk-based, layered approach to ensure the security of the traveling public.

"These layers include threat and vulnerability analysis, prescreening and screening of passengers, using the best available technology, random searches at airports, federal air marshal coverage and additional security measures both seen and unseen. DHS will continue to work with our federal, state, local, international and private sector partners to identify potential threats and take appropriate protective measures. As always, we encourage law enforcement and security officials, as well as the general public, to maintain vigilance and report suspicious activity to the appropriate authorities.”

[Updated at 5:16 p.m. ET] The FBI released a statement Monday afternoon saying that the device was seized abroad.

It reads in full:

"As a result of close cooperation with our security and intelligence partners overseas, an improvised explosive device (IED) designed to carry out a terrorist attack has been seized abroad. The FBI currently has possession of the IED and is conducting technical and forensics analysis on it. Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations. The device never presented a threat to public safety, and the U.S. government is working closely with international partners to address associated concerns with the device. We refer you to the Department of Homeland Security, including the Transportation Security Administration, regarding ongoing security measures to safeguard the American people and the traveling public."

[Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET]  CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellen reports that a counterterrorism official said they do not believe the attack was  planned to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden.

Officials said they believed the device never posed a threat to the public and heralded the thwarted plot and recovered device as a sign that American intelligence capabilities have improved.

[Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET] Caitlin Hayden, the Deputy National Security Council Spokesperson, released a statement about the plot on behalf of the White House:

"The President was first informed about the plot in April by his Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan, and he has received regular updates and briefings as needed from his national security team. While the President was assured that the device did not pose a threat to the public, he directed the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take whatever steps necessary to guard against this type of attack. The disruption of this IED plot underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism here and abroad. The President thanks all intelligence and counterterrorism professionals involved for their outstanding work and for serving with the extraordinary skill and commitment that their enormous responsibilities demand.”

[Updated at 5:03 p.m. ET] A U.S. counterterrorism official said the specific device was "nonmetallic" and was made to be used by a suicide bomber on an airliner.

The device is different from what was used by the "underwear bomber" in 2009, but it was in the same category, the official said. Those changes show al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is adapting its tactics.

[Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET] U.S. and international intelligence agencies have broken up an attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound jetliner, a U.S. counterterrorism official told CNN on Monday.

"This is a success story," the U.S. official said, adding that an explosive device was recovered.

The device has the hallmarks of previous bombing attempts by members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula including those used in the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day in 2009 and against a senior Saudi official earlier in 2009, according to the U.S official. Both devices were associated with Ibrahim Hassan al Asiri, the official said.

The plot was disrupted before it threatened Americans or allies and no airlines were at risk, the U.S official said.

The recovery of the device underscores the need to remain vigilant against a resilient and determined enemy, the official said.

Investigators are looking to analyze the device and expect it will yield valuable insights that will assist in adapting security practices here and abroad, officials said.

This story is developing. We will bring you the latest information as soon as we get it.

soundoff (367 Responses)
  1. danaboshed

    wonder if this dunekoon strapped the dynomite to his meatwhistle or his ballz??? Stupid SOB!

    May 7, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Wade stem

    Need Bush on this.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Why does Yemen hate us so much?

    Why does Yemen hate us so much?

    May 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. total non sense


    May 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. danaboshed

    this is all made to paint Oboma as a watchful eye...he is the most inexperienced boy wonder that this country ever had and is typical of his race! STUPID!!!

    May 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Dumbest. Statement. Ever.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. total non sense

    /tinfoil hat on
    you are a profound idiot
    /infoil hat off

    May 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. opinion8it

    Underwear Bomb 2.0

    May 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. willko

    Good to see the skepticism in the comments. The CIA have become parodies of themselves. If the story isn't a complete fabrication then al-qaeda intentionally left a "device" just to stoke the fear factor. They don't need to blow anything up. Our gov't is all too happy to exploit it for some sort of credibility and control. An underwear bomb, riiiiight.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. dscon

    lets que up a series of weak stories......all weak, so we have "something to spike",
    or at least something to make it like this clownfest is on top of it!

    May 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. russkeller

    HEY CNN How about a little competent journalism and stop reporting these government dry run/medal farming runs as thwarted terror attacks! When the government plans the attack and gives some bozo a fake bomb then catches him in the act that's not a thwarted terror attack.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. SixDegrees

    An awful lot of jabber with hardly anything in the way of actual content. They're even contradicting themselves over whether there was an actual threat or not.

    24 hour rule on this story.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Big Paulie

    My guess is when the guilt the WWII generation felt over the holohoax is gone (i.e. that generation dies off) the younger generations will feel no obligation to overlook Israel's terrorist and apartheid nature by being guilt tripped. Especially guilt tripped by an event that likely never happened at all as described. Science has shown that ground-penetrating radar found no mass graves, and that alleged gas chambers weren't even air-tight and were without any residue of the alleged gas. Add to this the numbers have changed drastically over the years of the alleged dead, and the fake pictures of dead Jews that turned out to be not only Jewless, but also not from death camps.

    Deaths during the Holocaust were mostly from starvation and mistreatment at work camps. The death camps are more fiction than fact, science has proven it time and time again. Besides, Jews were far from the only victims: gays, Jehovah's Witnesses, Blacks, mentally or physically handicapped, the list goes on and on.

    The nail in the coffin is that despite an alleged historic number of murdered Jews, the census numbers for Jews INCREASED during the time period of the holohoax and soon thereafter.

    Jews know that the general population is starting to figure out their tricks (thank you internet), and as such have been pushing very hard for hate speech laws to hide the truth. Try saying anything negative about a Jew in Germany, even if it is 100% accurate. See how long the polizei take to book you in.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      Very well explained I couldn't say it better myself. I salute you

      May 7, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harry A. Mitchell III

      You should really stop sniffing the model glue as it is killing off too many of what ever brain cells you have left!

      May 7, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duke

      Paulie, you're not big or swift of thought. Leave the heavy lifting to people.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robrob

      Lets hear it for the tinfoil hat brigade!

      May 7, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker

      Self-fulfilling paranoia that creates it's own enemies. Another nutjob with an agenda leaving a response that has nothing to do with the article.

      I can see you now, intoxicated and lovingly fondling the gun laying on your beer belly as you fume about the the people who are "out to get you", while moaning "it puts the lotion on it's skin" over and over.

      May 7, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reality Checker

      Why aren't the "Reply" posts connected to the original post to keep them in context?

      May 7, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Tin Foil Brigade Is Here

      Pssst...your anti-semitism is showing.

      May 7, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick

      coo coo! never saw the pictures taken by the US army and russians when "liberating" the death camps? never been to a holocaust museum i assume nor do you have any interest in seeing the truth but what can one expect from a muslim apologist that supports shoe bombers, underwear bombers, acid throwers, well poisoners, subway bombers, church bombers, Times square bombers, rocket launchers, marine barracks bombers, and now more underwear bombers? eh Achmed aka "Paulie". working overtime in the CAIR offices at the local islamic center? dearborn perchance?

      May 8, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
  13. Bennycat

    Be afraid, be very, very afraid.
    PS: We might just have to demolish whatever shreds of due process are left, but it's terrorism, it's national security, it's safety, it's . . . .

    May 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • dscon

      not afraid of someone cookin his oysters either.

      May 7, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MoLarCur

    "Hello, I think this one's the bomber," "no I think this one's the interrogator," "no wait, I think this one is the patriot we're suppose to protect." "Are we the CIA, NSA, FBI or White House today, Nya Nya Nya..."

    May 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Why can't we keep a secret?

    Is it so hard for our government and news media to keep quiet about any and all findings on the failings of bomb attempts? I mean, we do all of the troubleshooting for these idiots who keep trying to down a plane don't we? When they fail, there should be not a whisper about the attempt even occurring. Give them reason to wonder what happenned and quit telling them WHY the bomb didn't work. Such stupidity I've never seen.

    May 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
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