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CIA Foiled al Qaeda Plot to Blow Up U.S. Bound Airliner

By NBC News and msnbc.com staff

The CIA foiled a plot by al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner around the one-year anniversary of the killing of its former leader Osama bin Laden, senior U.S. officials told NBC News.

Officials said the plot involved a bomb with a design that upgraded the underwear bomb taken aboard a jetliner over Detroit on Christmas 2009. That explosive device failed to detonate.

The improved bomb had a more refined detonation mechanism, but was still intended to be hidden in a passenger’s underwear. Officials told NBC News the device was “totally non-metallic,” which would have made it more difficult to detect with traditional screening.

An official told NBC News no airlines were ever at risk. The plot was disrupted well before it threatened Americans or U.S. allies, the official added.

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