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We’re indebted to Saudi Arabia- White House | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Washington, Asharq Al-Awsat – A White House source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that Saudi Arabia played a pivotal role in uncovering the Al Qaeda plot to blow up an airplane travelling to the US from Yemen. This plot was to detonate an upgraded version of the failed 2009 “underwear bomb”, with the device being seized in the Middle East as part of a CIA operation in Yemen.

The White House source revealed that “over many years, the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have cooperated closely in the war on terror. The US government is in the debt of the Saudi government for its assistance in this regard. We look forward to further cooperation between the two countries.”

US news sources have revealed that the cooperation between the US and Saudi intelligence services regarding this operation began long ago, and that the two sides were monitoring this bomb plot thanks to the presence of a “double agent’ who had managed to infiltrate the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] organization. This double agent was able to gain access to the explosive device and turn it over to the authorities.

Reports also indicate that Saudi intelligence apparatus had been providing the CIA with information since the beginning of the operation, particularly regarding the movements of this upgraded “underwear bomb”, which some reports indicate would have been able to bypass airport security.

US sources declined to reveal the double agent’s identity or reveal any information about his current whereabouts, stressing that he played the role of double agent until he was able to gain possession of this explosive device; he then handed this device over to the Saudi intelligence authorities who surrendered it to US intelligence.

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton said the foiled attack represented proof of the continuing need for vigilance. She said “these terrorists keep trying. They keep trying to devise more and more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people.”

Announcing the successful nature of this operation, the FBI issued a statement revealing that “as a result of close co-operation with our security and intelligence partners overseas, an improvised explosive device [IED] designed to carry out a terrorist attack has been seized abroad.”

The FBI added “initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs that have been used previously by AQAP in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations.”

CNN, quoting US intelligence sources speaking on the condition of anonymity, revealed that this operation to foil this terrorist attack and acquire this dangerous explosive device was initiated by information from Saudi Arabia.

One source told CNN that from the very beginning, the infiltrator had been working for Saudi intelligence, whilst another source stressed that Saudi intelligence was involved with this operation “from A to Z”. The source added that the agent had moved in the “jihadist orbit” in Saudi Arabia before being recruited.

Another source claimed that the whole operation was personally overseen by Prince Mohammed Bin Naif, the head of Saudi counterterrorism.

Chief White House counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that officials believe redundant security systems would have prevented any airline bombing attempt from succeeding, but analysts are studying the device to see whether security procedures should be adjured.

He said “we’re trying to make sure that we take the measures that we need to prevent any other type of IED, similarly constructed, from getting through security procedures.”

This upgraded “underwear bomb” device, reportedly shared many features with the bomb sewn into the underwear of would-be suicide bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The Nigerian national was arrested on Christmas Day 2009 on a plane bound for Detroit when his device failed to explode fully. A US intelligence official said the latest device bore the “hallmarks” of the 2009 underwear bomb, which was built by Al Qaeda bomb specialist Ibrahim al-Asiri. One intelligence source, speaking to CNN on the condition of anonymity, revealed that this device contained PETN explosive, the same explosive used in previous attack by AQAP’s master bomb-maker Ibrahim al-Asiri.