09 May 2012

Would-Be Underwear Bomber Was 'Double Agent'

 The man chosen by al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen to blow up a US-bound airliner was a double agent who infiltrated the group and volunteered to carry out the suicide attack, US and Yemeni officials say. 
The agent, who was apparently working with the knowledge of both Saudi intelligence and the CIA, escaped Yemen with the sophisticated bomb and delivered it to foreign intelligence authorities, according to reports.
He is now said to be safe in an unidentified country where he is being debriefed.
A senior US official told the New York Times that a bomb for the attack was sewn into "custom fit" underwear that would have been difficult to detect even in a careful pat-down at an airport.

The FBI is analysing the explosive.
"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 said in a statement.
"The device never presented a threat to public safety, and the US Government is working closely with international partners to address associated concerns with the device."
Officials said it appeared to be an upgrade of the bomb that failed to detonate on board an airplane over Detroit on Christmas 2009, a plot which also originated in Yemen.
This new bomb contained no metal and used a chemical - lead azide - that was to be a detonator in the plot to attack cargo planes which nearly succeeded in 2010, officials said.
The New York Times said it had been designed by "the group's top explosives experts" to be undetectable by airport screening measures, particularly metal detectors.
A Department of Homeland Security official said that because the device was similar to the one in the failed 2009 attempt, security steps taken since "would have been able to prevent this device from bringing down an airplane".
Experts suggested airport body scanners, which use light doses of radiation to scan through a passenger's clothes, may have been able to detect an "anomaly" such as the device, which could then be further examined in a hands-on, pat down search.
However, the scanners have not been deployed in all airports across the US and are in very limited use elsewhere.
AQAP's master bomb-maker has previously been identified as Ibrahim Hassan al Asiri, a Saudi fugitive.
"I'm convinced that Asiri is behind this. He is an evil genius when it comes to bomb-making," House of Representatives homeland security committee chairman Peter King said on Fox News.

03 May 2012

Osama Bin Laden: 5 Things We Still Don't Know About His Death

One year ago Osama bin Laden was shot dead by US Navy Seals during a raid on his home in Pakistan.
His death has brought a range of information on the reclusive al-Qaeda leader to light, however there are still some key pieces of information left in the dark.
Where exactly was he buried?
Following the Navy SEAL mission to infiltrate Bin Laden's Abbottabad complex, his body was taken away by the American secret service and buried at sea. The American government insisted it had done this in order to prevent his burial site becoming a shrine, however the usual conspiracy theories came to rise.
Intelligence company Stratfor's emails, leaked by Wikileaks, seem to suggest that Bin Laden's burial location was not quite where we told. So exactly where is the terror chief’s final resting place?
Exactly what happened when he died?
The top secret operation conducted by Navy SEAL unit Seal Team Six to take down Osama Bin Laden has been described in articles, documentaries and diagrams but we still don't know exactly what happened when the al-Qaeda boss was killed. Did he go down fighting? Did he surrender?
How long was he in Pakistan?
The manhunt for the al-Qaeda leader lasted close to ten years – his hiding skill became a decade-long-joke. Chased through Afghanistan's deserts, foothills and caves, Bin Laden was eventually found in a relatively comfortable, inconspicuous compound. But how long had he resided in Pakistan?
Who knew where he was?
His compound, with fortified walls, barbed wire and guards, was not exactly discreet. Yet Bin Laden managed to hide away in a country known to be a safe haven for terrorists and a country easily accessed from Afghanistan. In their efforts to find the Saudi, did Pakistan not check the heavily-armoured compounds with unknown occupants? Was he not seen on the street for however long he was there?
Just how much did Pakistan know about the operation?
One of the biggest controversies surrounding the mission itself was the admission by American President Barack Obama that the USA had not told Pakistan that it was going to launch a covert mission, invading sovereign airspace without permission. The president defended his actions by saying that it was a snap decision to raid Abbottabad, but how complicit were Pakistan security forces in taking down the most wanted man in the world?