Intelligence services more than a year ago seized a "next-generation" al-Qaida explosive featuring a coating designed to evade detection by canine and mechanical sniffers at airports, a senior Obama administration official said in a Friday report by the Los Angeles Times.
Bomb-maker Ibrahim Hassan Asiri constructed the weapon to destroy airliners, Transportation Security Administration head John Pistole said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. The CIA and others grabbed the explosive when they entered an al-Qaeda group in Yemen and thwarted plans to conduct an attack that would have marked the first year since Osama bin Laden's 2011 death, he said.
Pistole suggested that Asiri would leave a dangerous legacy even if he is killed, because he has trained other terrorists, according to the Times. The bomb builder is "our greatest threat. All the intel folks here know that is a clear and present danger,” the official said.
Extremist violence will pose a greater risk to the United States as a result of recent leaks about government surveillance activities, National Security Agency director Keith Alexander said last week.
“We have concrete proof that … terrorist groups and others are (already) taking action, making changes, and it's going to make our job tougher,” he stated in remarks quoted by the Defense Department.