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March 23, 2023

US ‘foils new underwear bomb plot’ by al-Qaeda in Yemen

The US has foiled a plot by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to detonate an upgraded version of the failed 2009 “underwear bomb”, US officials say.The device was seized in the Middle East following a CIA operation in Yemen and is now being studied by the FBI, BBC informs.Reports say no target had been chosen and no plane tickets purchased by the time the alleged plot was foiled. Officials say there was never any risk to the public. It is not clear what has happened to the would-be bomber.Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee of the US House of Representatives, said counter-terrorism officials had told him: “We don’t have to worry about him anymore.”The officials revealed that the would-be bomber was alive, but would not say whether he was in foreign custody, Mr King added.US officials said the device had been seized in an unspecified Middle Eastern country outside Yemen within the last 10 days.“As a result of close co-operation 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 said.“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,” it added.President Barack Obama was first informed of the plot in April, White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said, adding the device had not posed a threat to the public.“What this incident makes clear is that this country has to continue to remain vigilant against those that would seek to attack this country. And we will do everything necessary to keep America safe,” Defence Secretary Leon Panetta (photo) told reporters on Monday.Officials said it appeared that AQAP leaders in Yemen had instructed a suicide bomber to board any flight of his choosing to the US with the bomb under his clothes, but that he had been stopped before reaching an airport.It is not clear who built the device, but officials said it shared some features with the bomb sewn into the underwear of would-be suicide bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.The Nigerian was arrested when his device failed to explode fully while on a plane bound for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.

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