Wow: Bomber in Yemen Al Qaeda airplane plot was CIA double agent

posted at 7:29 pm on May 8, 2012 by Allahpundit

ABC had this story this morning but they hadn’t quite nailed down the fact that the double agent who infiltrated AQ was in fact the “bomber” himself. It was strongly implied — ABC’s sources noted that the infiltrator had “control” of the bomb — but it falls to the L.A. Times to connect the last dot.

An enormous intel coup, needless to say:

Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, working closely with the CIA, used an informant to pose as a would-be suicide bomber. His job was to convince the Al Qaeda franchise in Yemen to give him a new kind of non-metallic bomb that the militants were designing to easily pass through airport security.

But the double agent instead arranged to deliver the explosive device to U.S. and other intelligence authorities waiting in another country, officials said Tuesday. The agent is now safely outside Yemen and is being debriefed…

The operation had an added benefit, however. It produced intelligence that helped U.S. authorities finally locate Fahd Mohammed Ahmed Quso, a top Al Qaeda operative in Yemen. Quso had been on the FBI’s most wanted list for his alleged involvement in the bombing of the guided missile destroyer USS Cole in a Yemeni port in 2000. The FBI had offered a $5-million bounty for information leading to his capture.

We already knew that Quso was connected to this plot somehow. I wonder, in fact, if the operation didn’t start out as a general sting on Al Qaeda in Yemen, aimed principally at finding and liquidating masterminds like Quso and bombmaker-in-chief Ibrahim al-Asiri, and develop organically into intercepting AQ’s latest and greatest bomb design. Looks that way per this new story from WaPo. Apparently, double agents have been on the inside for years:

A former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with recent operations against AQAP said that the Saudi intelligence service has furnished a steady stream of intelligence to the CIA.

“They’ve had someone on the inside of [AQAP] for some time,” the former official said. The Saudi source has provided intelligence on previous plots, including the tip that enabled authorities to disrupt al-Qaeda’s attempt to mail parcels packed with explosives to addresses in Chicago in 2010

Of dozens of AQAP fighters with Saudi backgrounds “at least five or eight of them are under cover” working for the Saudi service at any point in time, said a Middle Eastern official. “The Saudis have always had a network” of sources in Yemen, the official said, “now they are expanding its objectives.”

WaPo says it’s “unlikely” that the double agent was tasked to be the bomber and that it was probably a lower-ranking jihadi who was designated for that job, but the NYT says the agent did in fact volunteer for the mission. The latter explanation makes more sense to me just because it would explain why they had to finally pull him from the country after years of intelligence help. Once he had the bomb and was scheduled to detonate, how could he go back to the cell? They expected him to end up dead or caught a la Abdulmutallab. This also explains the highly coincidental timing of Quso meeting justice from a Predator missile within days of the double agent intercepting AQ’s bomb. Two possibilities there. Either the agent had never met Quso before and finally came face to face with him to pick up the bomb, which meant he could finally relay Quso’s whereabouts to the CIA, or this guy has been in deep cover alongside Quso for years and only now, when he was exfiltrating the cell, was it finally safe to go after Quso without blowing the agent’s cover. Makes me wonder what other intelligence bonanzas we’ve gotten from him. Was he the one who gave us the coordinates on Awlaki?

Here’s John Brennan filling in ABC this morning on details of the plot. He told NBC that TSA security measures will change to adapt to the new bomb design, but he didn’t say how. One other ominous note, again from ABC: “Brennan also said he could not say whether there were other bombers still at large.” Exit question one: Er, isn’t AQ in Yemen simply going to start purging its Saudi members now? Paranoia will be sky high after this, which is not an altogether bad thing but reduces the chances of further intel scores. Exit question two: If there are “five to eight” Saudi double agents inside the group and they’re delivering intelligence windfalls as big as this one, how come we haven’t yet gotten the prize catch, the bombmaker Asiri? Has he gone so deep underground that he’s operating now a la Bin Laden and Zawahiri, exclusively via written messages and courier? To reduce his operational capacity that much is a minor victory in itself.

video platform
video management
video solutions
video player


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

tjexcite on May 8, 2012 at 8:09 PM

According to the wiki, a double agent is not double crossing both sides, just one side. It’s still dubious that he is a real double agent by that definition either however, since he was not supposedly trying to penetrate another intelligence agency on behalf of AQ, but rather just blow up a plane.

pedestrian on May 8, 2012 at 8:20 PM

I’m glad I’m not the only one who is confused. Was he wanting to blow up the plane FOR AQ? Is he in our custody as a bad guy or just a big misunderstanding?

arnold ziffel on May 8, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Good!! Now Al-Qaida will paranoid as fluck! Not knowing who to trust and if that person got a finger on a drone trigger ( metaphorically) = less plots !!!

Get a grip guys!!

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on May 8, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Al-Quada is no longer a threat…..
No need to get close to them anymore…..

Smart Power.

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 8:35 PM

It’s where Obama thinks he knows something, like law and justice and economics and “fairness”, that’s he’s been a complete mess.

Mitchell Heisman on May 8, 2012 at 8:25 PM

Now that is a very good point. He has the worst den of thieves, socialist liars and incompetent boobs for a cabinet..BUT..their actions are what you would call ‘creeping destruction’…

But appointing someone like ‘BetrayUS’

..really wondering how many times these two $hitbirds:

cjw79 on May 8, 2012 at 8:14 PM
lester on May 8, 2012 at 7:59 PM

echoed that fine title..

to a position to thwart actual ‘immediate’ destruction (dead people)…

BigWyo on May 8, 2012 at 8:35 PM

Wouldn’t it have been better to fake a premature detonation and never let on that the guy was an agent?

Count to 10 on May 8, 2012 at 8:39 PM

Yes, an enormous intelligence coup. So why expose it? The guy never got on a plan. As they said, “the public was never in danger.”

The administration leaked details on a CIA tactic and has now effectively put an end to any such operations for the foreseeable future.

And what it you’re a Yemeni infiltrator right now and saw this news? You know the AQ cells are strapping ball bearings and C4 to every guy in a turban with less than 6 months “time in cell”. Can’t risk another informant, you know? So what will they do? They’ll turn on the US to save their neck head; that’s what.

So I ask again: Why the leak?

If we see a rash of “smart power”, “Obama leadership” and “Bush couldn’t do it” stories out of the Times and WaPo for the next week, also note if the economy and gay marriage issues go away. Then tell me someone didn’t sacrifice humint for politics.

BKeyser on May 8, 2012 at 8:41 PM

Why does Drudge do that to me? Yeck! The underwear bomber’s underwear is on full display.

DrStock on May 8, 2012 at 8:43 PM

..really wondering how many times these two $hitbirds:

cjw79 on May 8, 2012 at 8:14 PM
lester on May 8, 2012 at 7:59 PM

echoed that fine title..

to a position to thwart actual ‘immediate’ destruction (dead people)…

BigWyo on May 8, 2012 at 8:35 PM

I think childish name calling is stupid. Betrayus was incredibly dumb (and electoral poison). Bushitler also idiotic. To be candid, I chuckled when people referred to him as Shrub, but I never called him that myself.

Wouldn’t it have been better to fake a premature detonation and never let on that the guy was an agent?

Count to 10 on May 8, 2012 at 8:39 PM

Whoa, why didn’t you tell them that at the CIA? Oh you don’t work there? You have no idea what they did or didn’t do? Or why they did it? Or what else they did? I see.

cjw79 on May 8, 2012 at 8:45 PM

Thinking the bomber might have not known his contacts was CIA. Much like the Cleavland bomb plot, they did not know that they got the “bomb” from FBI and had FBI contacts just fellow OWS radicals. You can’t call the Cleavland 5 double agents even as they worked with FBI contact to get, plant and text the bombs.

tjexcite on May 8, 2012 at 8:47 PM

tjexcite on May 8, 2012 at 8:47 PM

False flag recruitment…not double agent…is more like it.

coldwarrior on May 8, 2012 at 8:50 PM

According to the wiki, a double agent is not double crossing both sides, just one side. It’s still dubious that he is a real double agent by that definition either however, since he was not supposedly trying to penetrate another intelligence agency on behalf of AQ, but rather just blow up a plane.

pedestrian on May 8, 2012 at 8:20 PM

As per usual the media likes to print the most sensational stuff they can, nevermind the accuracy.

The only way he can be a double agent is if he was a real al Qaeda operative to begin with.

For example, during the cold war a double agent would be someone who started out as a spy for the Soviets who decides to work for the US while the Soviets still think he is spying for them. Double agents are used to pass misinformation to the other side.

Apparently this guy simply infiltrated al Qaeda from the start.

Whichever it is, I’m sure al Qaeda will want to know, and apparently we will be telling them.

farsighted on May 8, 2012 at 8:53 PM

I little ditty

This is in no way connected to President Obama….
Peace be upon him.

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 8:53 PM

Thinking the bomber might have not known his contacts was CIA. Much like the Cleavland bomb plot, they did not know that they got the “bomb” from FBI and had FBI contacts just fellow OWS radicals. You can’t call the Cleavland 5 double agents even as they worked with FBI contact to get, plant and text the bombs.

tjexcite on May 8, 2012 at 8:47 PM

Where are you getting that from?

Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, working closely with the CIA, used an informant to pose as a would-be suicide bomber. His job was to convince the Al Qaeda franchise in Yemen to give him a new kind of non-metallic bomb that the militants were designing to easily pass through airport security.

Count to 10 on May 8, 2012 at 9:02 PM

and apparently we will be telling them.

farsighted on May 8, 2012 at 8:53 PM

Sadly, that will probably prove true from now till November.

Far better to let “our” Akhmed simply vanish from the screens.

Or have one of theirs simply not show up at the weekly planning meeting/Shawarma fest.

Of the most closely guarded secrets in WWII was the compromise of the Purple Codes, or Ultra. Had the Japanese or the Germans caught on that we were reading their electronic mail, the outcome could have been a bit different or the war prolonged…with deadly results.

Having these AQ guys out in Yemen, or elsewhere just sit there and mention to themselves, “where the hell is Akhmed these days?” is much preferable to their being told what works and what did not.

Taking them out one group at a time with a Hellfire is cost effective.

Having to gin up entirely new ops, new approaches, or find new suitable candidates to run up against them is time consuming, expensive, often unsuccessful, puts our people in danger, and broadcasting our methods (and sources) violates the primary rule of operational intelligence.

coldwarrior on May 8, 2012 at 9:03 PM

Whoa, why didn’t you tell them that at the CIA? Oh you don’t work there? You have no idea what they did or didn’t do? Or why they did it? Or what else they did? I see.

cjw79 on May 8, 2012 at 8:45 PM

Dude, seriously?

Count to 10 on May 8, 2012 at 9:04 PM

How can one explain the loosing of weapons in operation Fast and Furious….
But we are all safe now with this operation with Al-Queda.

If only we could connect the dots….

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 9:16 PM

Where are you getting that from?

Lack of research.

Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, working closely with the CIA, used an informant to pose as a would-be suicide bomber. His job was to convince the Al Qaeda franchise in Yemen to give him a new kind of non-metallic bomb that the militants were designing to easily pass through airport security.

Count to 10 on May 8, 2012 at 9:02 PM

Now I get it. Still not sure about the title double agent over the simple title mole. In that he never really wanted to work for ALQ just infiltrate to get to the Intel and bomb. Was the double part that he worked for both Saudi intel and CIA not really double CIA and AIQ. Will figure it out sooner or later and how does it fit in the grand mess.

tjexcite on May 8, 2012 at 9:30 PM

Nessuno on May 8, 2012 at 7:37 PM
-
Good analysis, but also consider the leaker could be nothing more than a traitor.
-
Congressman Pete King, we need an investigation.

diogenes on May 8, 2012 at 9:36 PM

How can one explain the loosing of weapons in operation Fast and Furious….
But we are all safe now with this operation with Al-Queda.

If only we could connect the dots….

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 9:16 PM

I don’t equate the DOJ to the CIA.

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on May 8, 2012 at 9:36 PM

I don’t equate the DOJ to the CIA.

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on May 8, 2012 at 9:36 PM

Correct. One of them is involved in Law Enforcement, the other…

Ummm, might have to re-think that one. :-)

coldwarrior on May 8, 2012 at 9:47 PM

I don’t think Obama deserves credit for this…after all, it is his JOB. That’s what he gets paid for. No brownie points for doing what you are SUPPOSED to be doing.

However, I don’t mind this information being revealed as long as his identity is kept secret (which I’m expecting them to disclose at any moment now..because it’s all politics all the time!)

On another note, to summarize the thread: Bush deserves the credit, or this should not be public info (aka I don’t want to hear about this because it pisses me off that Romney is my nominee and that loser has no gay expert to tell what to say to Obama) / :)

Question: If you met Obama in person and could do to him what ever you want with no consequences, what would you do?

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on May 8, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Correct. One of them is involved in Law Enforcement, the other…

Ummm, might have to re-think that one. :-)

coldwarrior on May 8, 2012 at 9:47 PM

HAHAHA. Let me know when you figure it out, I gave up.

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on May 8, 2012 at 9:52 PM

Question: If you met Obama in person and could do to him what ever you want with no consequences, what would you do?

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on May 8, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Throw a shoe….

I take that back…that would be inappropriate to a President..

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 9:54 PM

HAHAHA. Let me know when you figure it out, I gave up.

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on May 8, 2012 at 9:52 PM

I guess one dept. is given a pass to screw up.

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 9:55 PM

Question: If you met Obama in person and could do to him what ever you want with no consequences, what would you do?

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on May 8, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Turn around and walk away.

coldwarrior on May 8, 2012 at 10:13 PM

Turn around and walk away.

coldwarrior on May 8, 2012 at 10:13 PM

I would release some Global Warming….
It killed the Dinosaurs…so I was told….
:)

Electrongod on May 8, 2012 at 10:17 PM

This is the stuff that some scholar might uncover 20, maybe 30, years down the road after docs are declassed….but less than a week after the event?

Pretty f-in stupid.

The stories today say the administration is going to pursue the person who leaked it to AP. Since the AP knows the ID of the leaker it’s possible this brings Fitzgerald out of moth balls for a special prosecution–if it’s not someone from team O. If it was we’ll hear nothing more about it.

A.C. McCloud on May 8, 2012 at 10:48 PM

Question: If you met Obama in person and could do to him what ever you want with no consequences, what would you do?

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on May 8, 2012 at 9:50 PM

Nice try.

Cylor on May 9, 2012 at 6:52 AM

Exit question one: Er, isn’t AQ in Yemen simply going to start purging its Saudi members now?

Yeah, any moment now.

The stories today say the administration is going to pursue the person who leaked it to AP. Since the AP knows the ID of the leaker it’s possible this brings Fitzgerald out of moth balls for a special prosecution–if it’s not someone from team O. If it was we’ll hear nothing more about it.

A.C. McCloud on May 8, 2012 at 10:48 PM

The 0-Team wanted this to come out their way or not at all. They wanted the goal fro stopping the bomber, but the revelation that he was their asset all along is a problem for them.

Did the 0-Team orchestrate the entire event?

What’s next for the TSA, full cavity searches for everyone who flies and full baggage inspections? yeesh.

dogsoldier on May 9, 2012 at 8:44 AM

Releasing intelligence information such as this should be investigated by the House. Leakers are treasonous for doing so in the current conflict. The WaPo have said quite clearly the information came from “top level government officials”. It was pure politics to bolster metrosexual Barak’s man card cred. They made a point of crediting Obama with putting drones and spies in the field as if nothing like that had ever been done before.

ironked on May 9, 2012 at 8:45 AM

It was pure politics to bolster metrosexual Barak’s man card cred. They made a point of crediting Obama with putting drones and spies in the field as if nothing like that had ever been done before.

ironked on May 9, 2012 at 8:45 AM

This seems likely and it blew up in their faces. Will they publicize every thwarted attempt with major headlines between now and November?

Not a smart tactic, IMHO.

dogsoldier on May 9, 2012 at 8:49 AM

If the TSA is going to modify it’s procedures as a reaction to this bomb plot, will it entail increased scrutiny of Arab males? Unless the double agent was a wheelchair bound senior citizen with a colostomy, of course. Then by all means, keep the status quo.

walkingboss on May 9, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Just this past May Day, the FBI reportedly foiled an attempted bombing of a bridge near Cleveland. But like many instances of domestic terrorism, this operation was aided and facilitated by the FBI itself. On cue, authorities assured the public it “was never in any danger.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9239587/FBI-breaks-up-anarchist-plot-to-attack-Cleveland-bridge.html

Government agents normally target people for their speech at first. When they find somebody dumb or naïve enough to play along, the FBI often prods the vulnerable individuals into working with the government to hatch a half-baked plot. Government agents, of course, run the show from the beginning — even providing the bogus bombs and sometimes offering huge cash payments.

Then, the SWAT teams swoop in and “save the day” so the Justice Department can issue press releases patting itself on the back for keeping America safe. And when defendants claim entrapment, they tend to lose “because the law requires that they show no predisposition to commit the crime, even when induced by government agents.

For example, the Washington DC Metro bombing plot, the New York city subway plot, the plot to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago were all FBI brainchilds organized and managed by FBI agents.

The alleged Yemen “underwear” bomber was just another fabricated spook in the long line of mounting justifications to keep the war on terror and its profiteers going; no matter the cost.

Not only was Abdulmutallab’s explosive device determined not to be functional but, according to undersecretary for management at the State Department Patrick Kennedy, his visa wasn’t confiscated and he was given access to the airplane for the purposes of conducting further investigation. This came at the request of federal counterterrorism officials.

As long as the American people are still easily whipped into a frenzy over forged menaces from afar, their blood and treasure will go on to be squandered on military boondoggles and redundant intelligence agencies. War and fear end up becoming a way of life.

JustTheFacts on May 9, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Comment pages: 1 2