WASHINGTON: US officials claim they have disrupted a plot by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to plant an improvised explosive device on a US bound airline.
The plot was first reported by the Associated Press.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, in a statement, said they had possession of the IED and were 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,” said the FBI.
A senior US official, who did not wish to be named, said, “The recovery of the device was a team sport. It is another example of outstanding international counterterrorism cooperation. We disrupted this plot well before it was ever a threat to the United States.”
The official blamed the AQAP 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 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 Ladin and Awlaki.”
Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in September last year.
The US official said that they believed the AQAP had made territorial gains during the political standoff in Yemen, which has led to an increase in the threat posed by this group. “Those territorial gains have allowed the group to establish additional training camps,” said the official.
White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said, “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.”
More in WorldGoogle self-driving car gets green light in Nevada