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Agent In Underwear Bomb Plot Produced Intelligence Coups

Dina Temple-Raston talks with David Greene

More details are emerging about the plot to put another "underwear bomber" aboard a U.S.-bound passenger jet and what the CIA says was its successful foiling of the operation:

As NPR's Dina Temple-Raston reported onMorning Edition:

-- The double agent who authorities say infiltrated al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and ended up handing over to the FBI the bomb that AQAP wanted him to wear aboard a U.S.-bound flight, also gave American officials the information that led to a drone strike in Yemen on Sunday that killed Fahd al-Quso. He's one of the men linked to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.

-- One of other major intelligence "coups" from the operation that thwarted AQAP's plan is the bomb itself, which is now being studied. "It's a lot easier to analyze a bomb when it's intact," rather than after an explosion, Dina told Morning Edition host David Greene.

-- American officials haven't ruled out the possibility that there may be another of the latest generation underwear bombs out there. The double agent likely wouldn't know if other operations were underway, Dina said. But, she added, there's "no indication" that there are other bombs.

The New York Times adds that "officials said Tuesday night that the risk to the [double] agent and his relatives had now been 'mitigated,' evidently by moving both him and his family to safe locations."

Reuters, meanwhile, looks at Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri — the Saudi-born bombmaker who's believed to have made what's been described as the form-fitting, briefs-like underwear bomb that is now in the FBI's hands.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.