The CIA has foiled an al Qaeda bomb plot against the United States. But officials say even thought the bomber has been caught, al Qaeda is becoming more sophisticated, and the threat is far from over.
The plot is a reminder that al Qaeda still has its sights set on the U.S. This time, they have a new type of bomb, one intended to slip past airport security and take down a U.S.-bound commercial airplane.
"We are dealing with a dynamic adversary here, so they are always going to identify the vulnerabilities and work-arounds in our own systems," Frank Cilluffo,with George Washington University, said.
CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck shared his insights on the threat al Qaeda poses the United States, on "The 700 Club," May 8.
U.S. officials say the bomb was confiscated after the CIA unraveled the terror plot. The plot involved an upgrade of the underwear bomb that failed to detonate on Christmas 2009.
The would-be suicide bomber was based in Yemen. He was planning the attack around the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Officials say he had not yet picked a target or bought a ticket when the CIA stepped in.
Al Qaeda bombmaker Ibrahim Al Asiri, the apparent mastermind of the plot, is still at large but known to be operating out of Yemen.
Officials say al Qaeda still seeks to avenge bin Laden's death, a far different story from a few weeks ago when the National Journal quoted a State Department official saying "The war on terror is over."
"What this incident makes clear is that this country has to continue to remain vigilant against those who would seek to attack this country," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said during a press conference at the Pentagon.
The operation to thwart the latest bomb plot unfolded even as the White House and Department of Homeland Security assured the American people that they knew of no al Qaeda plots against the U.S. around the anniversary of bin Laden's death.
"We have no credible information that terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, are plotting attacks in the U.S. to coincide with the anniversary of bin Laden's death," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on April 26.
But Obama was being briefed on the plot in April by counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan.
These new bombs use a more sophisticated detonation system, one without any metallic parts. Security experts say even the best airport scanners may not have caught the devices. And another concern - it's unclear how many airports abroad even have the body-scanner technology.
U.S. officials say there may be several other would-be suicide bombers with similar non-metallic devices out there. And al Qaeda's English-language magazine continues to call for attacks against the U.S.
The most recent issue offered advice on how to start huge forest fires and carry out urban assassinations.