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Al Qaeda Underwear-Bombing Attempt Thwarted

Remember the underwear bomber, the guy who tried to blow up a plane in 2009 by stuffing some sophisticated explosives into his pants? He's no longer THE underwear bomber, but AN underwear bomber. The Associated Press reports that the CIA uncovered and stopped a plot involving another Al Qaeda operative walking onto a plane with a bomb stuffed down his pants. The attack, which was reportedly timed to loosely coincide with the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, was to be carried out by a member of Al Qaeda's Yemeni outpost. The AP speculates that the device itself was probably the work of Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, a "master bomb maker" who was also responsible for the 2009 bomb. This version was an "upgrade" of the previous model, although it's not clear just yet what that means.

Although the White House issued an official statement on April 26, that it had no "credible" information about an anniversary plot from Al Qaeda — echoed by the Department of Homeland Security as recently as May, the AP report indicates that the sting happened amid those assurances.

The FBI is examining the latest bomb to see whether it could have passed through airport security and brought down an airplane, officials said. They said the device did not contain metal, meaning it probably could have passed through an airport metal detector. But it was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it.

The would-be suicide bomber, based in Yemen, had not yet picked a target or bought his plane tickets when the CIA stepped in and seized the bomb, officials said.

Biographical details on the bomber aren't yet available, though the White House will reportedly issue a statement tomorrow. Kind of their new spring tradition, it seems — thwarting terrorists. Move over, Easter Egg Roll.

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