would-be suicide bomber was actually a British national, working through British intelligence to infiltrate the terror organization in Yemen.
By Robert Windrem
The spy who helped Western intelligence agencies thwart a plot to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner was a British national of Middle Eastern origin, sources tell NBC News.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, also say that British intelligence was “heavily involved” in recruiting the spy, who has not yet been identified publicly, and penetrating the plot by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to detonate a new, more sophisticated underwear bomb aboard a U.S. jetliner.
A senior U.S. counterterrorism official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, would say only that multiple friendly security services were involved in the operation. Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism operation also were involved, other U.S. officials have told NBC News.
U.S. and British officials have long reported that AQAP has wanted to recruit Muslims with Western passports to carry out attacks like the one revealed this week. As an example, the officials cited AQAP’s recruitment of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who failed in the Christmas Day 2009 attempt to bring down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit.