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Bomb Plot Foiled

The CIA says it’s stopped an al-Qaida plot to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner. We’ll go deep on how they spotted the plot and the bomb threat now.

This undated file photo released by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010, in a combination of two photos which they say both show bomb maker suspect Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. Al-Asiri constructed the first underwear bomb and two others that al-Qaida built into printer cartridges and shipped to the U.S. on cargo planes in 2010. U.S. bomb experts are picking apart a sophisticated new al-Qaida improvised explosive device, a top Obama administration counterterrorism official said Tuesday, to determine if it could have slipped past airport security and taken down a commercial airplane. (AP)

This undated file photo released by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010, in a combination of two photos which they say both show bomb maker suspect Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. Al-Asiri constructed the first underwear bomb and two others that al-Qaida built into printer cartridges and shipped to the U.S. on cargo planes in 2010. U.S. bomb experts are picking apart a sophisticated new al-Qaida improvised explosive device, a top Obama administration counterterrorism official said Tuesday, to determine if it could have slipped past airport security and taken down a commercial airplane. (AP)

The news reports on the double agent in Arabia and the foiled bomb plot aimed at U.S.-bound airliners reads like a script from “Mission Impossible.” 

A super sting.  A double agent inserted into the heart of al-Qaida in Yemen, pretending to be a willing suicide bomber, coming out alive with the latest, fiendish creation of a master bomb maker: a deadly underwear bomb so subtle it might have slipped right through. We’re past panicking every time we hear the name al-Qaida. But this gets our attention. 

This hour, On Point:  al-Qaida, the sting, and the threat now.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Brian Bennett, national security correspondent for the Los Angeles Times

Philip Mudd, senior research fellow, Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative at the New America Foundation. He’s the former deputy director, National Security Branch of the FBI and former deputy director of the CIA’s  Counterterrorism Center.

Bruce Hoffman, Professor and Director, Center for Peace and Security Studies and Security Studies Program at Georgetown University.

From Tom’s Reading List

Daily Beast “The infamous Ibrahim al Asiri is thought to have orchestrated al Qaeda’s latest foiled bomb plot. Bruce Riedel on how an enemy in Yemen and his pupils are determined to blast their way into American history.”

ABC News “In a stunning intelligence coup, a dangerous al Qaeda bomb cell in Yemen was successfully infiltrated by an inside source who secretly worked for the CIA and several other intelligence agencies, authorities revealed to ABC News.”

CBS News ” Inspire, an online magazine associated with an al Qaeda affiliate group called AQAP or al Qaeda of the Arabia Peninsula continues to be published a year after its publisher and editor were killed. This week, the magazine surprised some when it released a double issue. ”

The Washington Post “The CIA and overseas intelligence partners disrupted an al-Qaeda plot to blow up civilian aircraft using an advanced explosive device designed by the terrorist network’s affiliate in Yemen, U.S. officials said Monday.”

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