Al-Qaeda Bomb Was Sewn Into 'Custom-Fit' Underwear
It could be detonated in two ways, official tells 'NYT'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2012 11:02 AM CDT
This undated file photo released Oct. 31, 2010 by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior, purports to show Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri.   (AP Photo/Saudi Arabia Ministry of Interior, File)

(Newser) – We now know that a Saudi double-agent managed to get his hands on a non-metallic bomb that was designed by al-Qaeda to slip past metal detectors—and a number of US officials aren't too happy about said revelation. Though the AP held the story for a few days, the CIA kept it under wraps for weeks, reports the New York Times, releasing it only when the CIA established that the agent and his family were safe. Rep. Peter King blasted the revelation that a mole was involved on CNN last night, telling Anderson Cooper, "This could really interfere with operations overseas. My understanding is a major investigation is going to be launched because of this."

As for the bomb itself, an official says it was incorporated into "custom-fit" underwear, outfitted with a high-grade military explosive, and equipped with two detonation methods (a sole method failed al-Qaeda in 2009). He said it could be missed during even a thorough pat-down, but another official tells the Times that it "most likely would have (been) detected" if the correct screening measures were followed. NPR adds that acquiring the bomb intact is a "coup" for US intelligence, as it's much easier to study in that form. Officials are still on the fence about whether to release images of the bomb: Doing so could assist TSA agents and law enforcement, but officials fear they would be leaked to the press.