Would be al-Qaeda bomber was Saudi double agent

Yemen


The man tasked by al-Qaeda’s Yemeni branch to blow up an airliner bound for the United States last month, was a mole who had been recruited by Saudi intelligence. IntelNews understands that the double agent is a Saudi citizen who volunteered to act as an informant for Saudi authorities. The latter eventually tasked him with traveling to Yemen, joining al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and convincing its leaders that he was willing to carry out a suicide mission against Western targets. It is not known at this point whether the Saudis kept the United States Central Intelligence Agency in the loop from the moment the mole was sent to Yemen to join AQAP. What is known is that the man did indeed manage to penetrate AQAP and was eventually entrusted with attacking a civilian airliner with a custom-built bomb designed to fit seamlessly around his scrotum. However, instead of carrying out the suicide mission as agreed, the man left Yemen for Saudi Arabia and delivered both himself and the bomb to Saudi intelligence. The Saudis eventually notified the CIA of the foiled plot, before forwarding the deactivated explosive device to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is now studying it. Thus, initial media reports claiming that the CIA had foiled the attack appear somewhat stretched at this point, in light of the critical role of the Saudi mole inside AQAP. The CIA is not known to have many contacts in Yemen’s militant Islamist community; for this reason, it invariably relies on Arab intelligence agencies, notably the Saudis, who have an interest in the increasingly unstable country located at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula’s unruly desert region. The French news agency AFP quotes former CIA offier Bruce Riedel, who notes bluntly that “it’s usually the Saudis who give [the CIA] the critical intelligence” on Yemeni militant groups. Security observers will remember when, in 2010, the Saudis helped the CIA foil yet another bomb plot originating in Yemen. At that time they notified the agency of an attempt to blow up US cargo airplanes using printer ink cartridges. According to the BBC, the double agent involved in this latest foiled plot is currently being debriefed in Saudi Arabia.

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