BREAKING: Terror plot directed at airliner thwarted
Suspected al Qaeda bomb expert Ibrahim Hassan al Asiri of Yemen.
May 7th, 2012
05:06 PM ET

BREAKING: Terror plot directed at airliner thwarted

By Pam Benson

U.S., Yemeni and other intelligence agencies broke up a plot to bomb a U.S. airliner around the anniversary of the raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, a U.S. counterrrorism official said Monday, although a second U.S. counterrorism official said that the threat was not timed to coincide with the death of the al Qaeda leader.

The plot was discovered before it threatened any Americans, and no airliners were put at risk, the official said. A non-metallic explosive device similar to the one used in the failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound jet in 2009 was recovered, the official said. Both devices were associated with Ibrahim Hassan al Asiri, the official said.

And a Yemeni official told CNN that his government was made aware of a possible attack tied to the anniversary. The target was not specific, the official said, and the alert went out to the United States and other partners in the war on terror.

The White House said President Barack Obama was told about the plot in April, and the attempt "underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism here and abroad."

CNN's Elise Labott and Jessica Yellin contributed to this report.


Filed under: AQAP • Ibrahim al-Asiri • Security Brief • Yemen
Al Qaeda's biggest threat
February 16th, 2012
07:06 PM ET

Al Qaeda's biggest threat

By Paul Cruickshank, Nic Robertson, and Tim Lister

Editor's note: This report is based on a one-year investigation by CNN into air cargo security in light of a thwarted plot by al Qaeda in October 2010 to blow up cargo jets over the United States. CNN's Nic Robertson's report "Deadly Cargo" aired on CNN Presents in February 2012.

Ibrahim al-Asiri is the sort of terrorist who keeps intelligence officials awake at night.  He’s al Qaeda’s chief bomb-maker, and he built explosive devices hidden in printer cartridges that got onto several planes in October 2010.  He’s still at large in Yemen.  The bomb plots he’s alleged to have masterminded – the 2009 underwear bomb plot and printer bombs dispatched to the United States in 2010 – have very nearly worked.  And security experts say al-Asiri and al Qaeda in Yemen may yet penetrate the security screening that is meant to protect aviation.

ALSO WATCH: Reconstructing al Qaeda's printer bomb