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CIA thwarts bomb plot near anniversary of bin Laden's death

Man would have had new version of underwear bomb on flight to U.S.

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The CIA thwarted a plot by al-Qaida's Yemen affiliate to bomb a U.S.-bound airplane around the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, the Associated Press reported.

A counter-terrorism official tells CBS News a device was recovered and it has the hallmarks of previous devices used by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The work is believed to be that of bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri.

U.S. officials said the device for the plot was an improvement on the design used by the underwear bomber around Christmas 2009 on an airplane near Detroit.

The new bomb was also stored in the would-be suicide bomber's underwear, said the AP.

Officials said the bomber was told to buy a ticket and decide the time of the attack, but it remained unclear what happened to the bomber.

The AP reported that the FBI was now examining the bomb to see if it could have passed airport security, because it contained no metal for metal detectors to pick up on.

The AP reportedly learned of the foiled plot last week but conceded to requests from the White House and CIA not to report it immediately due to security concerns.

A senior US official told CBS News "we disrupted this plot well before it was ever a threat to the United States." And added, that at no time was any airplane or passengers in danger from the plot.

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On bin Laden's death anniversary, Graham Allison, who served as the assistant secretary of Defense under the Clinton administration, noted that secrecy matters in issues of national defense. "The bin Laden case demonstrates why success requires discovering secrets, allowing a president time to reflect on them in private, and permitting him to reach a decision and act — unbeknownst to the watchful eye of the Washington press corps — thus finding ways to expand a zone of privacy for presidential decision-making on other major national security issues," Allison wrote in GlobalPost.

According to the AP, the Obama administration is expected to make an official announcement Tuesday.

Earlier Monday, reports emerged of an al-Qaida leader in Yemen, connected to the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole, being killed in an airstrike. The BBC reported that al-Qaida and Yemen's embassy had confirmed Fahd al-Quso's death.

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Ibrahim al-Asiri is believed to have improved the design of the underwear bomb that was intended to be used to take down an airliner in December 2009.

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