The CIA thwarted an al-Qaeda bomb plot directed against U.S.-bound airliners around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, according to the Associated Press.
The would-be airline bomber reportedly had an underwear bomb similar to the one that failed to detonate aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. However, the latest “underwear bomber” used a more refined detonation system, anonymous U.S. officials told the Associated Press.
The bomb plot was planned by al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen. CIA operatives seized the bomb before the plot could be carried out, but what happened to the alleged bomber is unknown.
Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 24-year-old Nigerian man, had allegedly tried to detonate an explosive device in his underwear in 2009. The device only started a small fire and passengers aboard the flight were able to subdue him.
The incident caused the United States to adopt strict new security procedures at airports, such as body scanner machines and random pat-downs. Critics of the new security measures have argued that they are too invasive.
The explosive device used by the latest alleged “underwear bomber” did not contain any metal and would have likely passed silently through a metal detector. The FBI is examining whether it could have passed undetected through a body scanner machine.