CIA's source was bomber himself in Yemen, US official
It was a huge revelation Tuesday in Washington: federal officials say the terrorist bomb plot, revealed Monday, was disrupted because the CIA had a source inside al-Qaida in Yemen, who was the bomber himself.
At the same time, homeland security officials say no major changes need to be made to U.S. airport security.
There’s a lot of satisfaction in Washington: the CIA apparently scored a first-ever-reported infiltration of al-Qaida, and it looks like homeland security was equipped to deal with this threat.
U.S. officials say the full body scanners in many U.S. and overseas airports probably would have picked up the latest al-Qaida bomb.
"I think, all things considered, yes, a high likelihood it would have been detected," said secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano.
The FBI is analyzing the device, the next version of the underwear bomb that fizzled in 2009, worn by al-Qaida terrorist Umar Abdelmuttallab.
"They are adapting and we see just between the last underwear bomb and this one an increase in the sophistication of the device they're using," said Rep. Adam Schiff, (D) California, on the House intelligence committee.
And the CIA is adapting in Yemen, scoring a huge coup, sources say, in this nation where al-Qaida is the most active.
"We don't have to worry about the IED or the would-be bomber," said chief White House counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan.
Sources say the bomber was never a worry but, in fact, a CIA source, an asset who brought the bomb out of Yemen.
Infiltrating al-Qaida would be a breakthrough.
"This is something we've been trying to do for a long time,” said former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter. “So these sources, these methods of how we're collecting intelligence are really the crown jewels in terms of disrupting these plots."
In a CIA drone strike, apparently related to busting up the bomb plot, the head of al-Qaida in Yemen was killed Sunday.
Administration officials are feeling good.
"Since 9/11 and not one plane has been brought down by a terrorist," said Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood.
But, from TSA to CIA, the vow Tuesday is not to let up.
Al-Qaida proved it's still targeting U.S. air travel.