Yemen bomb plot tip-off came from ex-Gitmo detainee, according to report
Repentant al-Qaida member provided intelligence that led to discovery of two deviceshttp://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39947157/ns/us_news-security/
LONDON — A repentant member of al-Qaida gave authorities the key tip-off which led to the discovery of the two mail bombs sent from Yemen to the U.S., BBC News reported Monday.
Citing unnamed U.K. officials, the BBC said former Guantanamo detainee Jaber al-Faifi had given himself up to Saudi Arabian authorities two weeks ago.
Al-Faifi had rejoined al-Qaida in Yemen, the BBC said, citing AFP, after he had been released from Guantanamo and completed a rehabilitation program in Saudi Arabia.
The BBC said it was told by Saudia Arabia interior ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki that al-Faifi contacted government officials to say he wanted to return home, which was arranged through Yemen's government.
A U.S. official and a British security consultant said previously that the device, hidden in a printer cartridge, was so sophisticated that it nearly slipped past British investigators even after the tip-off was passed on by Saudi Arabian authorities.
British Home Secretary Theresa May has also said the bomb discovered on the plane that landed in England was powerful enough to bring down the aircraft.
The bombs were addressed to synagogues in the Chicago area, but were intercepted on board cargo flights in Dubai and the U.K.
He is also suspected of sending his own brother on a suicide mission against a top Saudi official.
Al-Asiri and his brother abruptly left their Mecca home three years ago, their father, a four-decade veteran of the Saudi military, said. Aside from a brief phone call to say they had left the country, he never heard from them again.
With the bomb hidden in a body cavity, Abdullah approached the prince and blew himself up. The prince was only wounded.
This device and the two mail bombs discovered last week contained a high explosive known as PETN, or pentaerythritol tetranitrate.
Forensic analysis indicates that al-Asiri, who is living in Yemen, built all three devices and is believed to have a fair degree of skill and training, although all the operations have been unsuccessful.
He is also believed to have packed explosives into the underwear of a Nigerian accused of trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas.
Yemeni security officials said they were searching for al-Asiri, who is believed to be in Marib province.
CIA hunter-killer teams?
Meantime, the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed officials, reported Monday that there was growing support within the Obama administration and military to put elite U.S. hunter-killer teams under CIA — rather than military — control to help catch al-Asiri and other wanted militants.
The paper said this would allow the U.S. to attack terrorist targets "unilaterally with greater stealth and speed ... even without the explicit blessing of the Yemeni government."
Because CIA operations are covert, this would enable the Yemeni government to deny knowledge of operations. The Journal also said the White House was already considering the use of CIA drones in Yemen.
Yemen has allowed the some U.S. military operations against al-Qaida, the paper said, but has also delayed or objected to others.
"At the end of the day, they limit us when we are getting too close," a senior U.S. official said, according to the Journal.
At Yemen's Sanaa University on Monday, a rally was held in support of Hanan al-Samawi, who was arrested but later released by Yemeni authorities in connection with the plot. A government official said another woman had used her name and identity when sending one of the packages.Story: Yemen frees student held over parcel bombs
Al-Samawi, a student, and her father drove in and around the campus to the chants and cheers of about 3,000 to 4,000 people for about an hour, NBC News says.
Meanwhile, a package exploded at a private delivery company in Athens on Monday, injuring a woman, police said. Two other locations were also being investigated.
It was unclear where the packages were from or if there was any connection to the Yemen plot.
Greek far-left and radical militant groups have used mail bombs in attacks in the past. In June 2009, a senior official at the country's public order minister was killed in a letter bomb blast.