British secret agent was al-Qaeda mole who cracked new 'underpants' bomb plot
by DUNCAN GARDHAM
May 11, 2012
The man, who risked his life to get close to al-Qaeda's master bomb-maker in the Yemen, is of Saudi origin but holds a British passport, sources told the Daily Telegraph.
MI5 recruited the agent for an operation in which the CIA planned to target the bomb-maker with a missile from an unmanned drone.
MI6 then worked with the Saudis who have previously infiltrated al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP), based in Yemen.
The individual was sent to target Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the ruthless Saudi-born bomb-maker for AQAP.
He infiltrated the terrorist group, risking execution if he was discovered, and volunteered to be a suicide bomber.
Two weeks ago, the agent walked away from al-Qaeda with the device he was supposed to use in an attack on US-bound aircraft.
He traveled to the United Arab Emirates and then to Saudi Arabia, with the device before handing it over to his British handlers.
He was also able to give information which led to a CIA drone strike on Sunday which killed Fahd al-Quso, AQAP's director of external operations.
However al-Asiri was not there and remains at large, frustrating efforts to kill him. The mission is particularly sensitive because British agents are not supposed to give "targeting information" for lethal operations.
The underpants device was handed to the FBI laboratories in Quantico, Virginia, which examined a similar device used by Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab on a trans-Atlantic airliner to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009.
The FBI has discovered that Asiri had refined the prototype he first developed for use by his own brother in a suicide operation three years ago so that it could be detonated in two separate ways.
The British security services are thought to be unhappy that their role has become known, fearing it may jeopardise the recruitment of future agents who are given anonymity even after they die by the service. Whitehall sources refused to comment.
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