Underwear bomber's plot was foiled by British agent
Rob Hastings is Deputy News Editor at The Independent. He has served on the news desk since 2010, and also writes travel articles, music reviews and features. In 2015 he shortlisted for the Washington Post’s Laurence Stern Fellowship for a series on reportage features from Iran.
Friday 11 May 2012
The undercover agent who foiled an an Al-Qa'ida plot to destroy an airliner by posing as a potential suicide bomber is British, it was reported in the US last night.
The operative, who is of Saudi origin but holds a UK passport, is said to have been involved with a group of Islamic extremists but was recruited to help fight against terrorism after coming to the attention of intelligence officers.
His British nationality played a key part in his appeal to those plotting the attack, according to CNN, because he would find it easier to arrange travel to the US.
He is understood to have been sent to Yemen at the behest of Saudi counter-terrorism officers, though Reuters reported last night that British intelligence played a "central role" in thwarting the attack.
The unnamed man's genuine background in extremism was important because the terrorist network pay extremely close scrutiny to the reliability of those they recruit. An anonymous security source, who had been briefed by Saudi agents, told CNN that the double agent informed the authorities in the Middle Eastern kingdom about the plot, who then passed the details on to the US.
After being taught how to use the weapon at a training camp, the agent and a fellow informant were extracted from Yemen with the bomb and flown to the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
The FBI has since been studying the device at its lab at Quantico, Virginia, and US officials say it bears the hallmarks of fugitive Saudi militant Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, suspected of being the chief bomb-maker working with Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemeni division is known.
The terrorist group is believed to have been planning the attack with an almost undetectable, non-metallic device to coincide with the first anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden.
The device was an upgraded version of the underwear bomb that was carried onto a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day 2009.
- 1 Video shows how to turn your phone into a 3D hologram
- 2 Artist Jamie McCartney: How The Great Wall of Vagina is a stand against 'body fascism'
- 3 Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
- 4 'Gene drive': Scientists sound alarm over supercharged GM organisms which could spread in the wild and cause environmental disasters
- 5 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
Tensions flare as Confederate flag supporter reaches for gun when confronted by protests – in pictures
'Gene drive': Scientists sound alarm over supercharged GM organisms which could spread in the wild and cause environmental disasters
Tom Cruise: Reporters banned from asking actor about Scientology
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
Calais crisis: For desperate migrants it is 'England or death' as they brave dogs, riot police and speeding trains
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...
£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...