Monday, November 01, 2010

Cargo Bomb Plot Tip Came From Ex-Gitmo Detainee

The BBC is reporting that an al Qaeda member and former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was released and then went back to al Qaeda had turned himself in to Saudi authorities who helped crack the latest bomb plot to blow up airlines using disguised cargo packages.
Jabr al-Faifi handed himself into authorities in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago, the officials told the BBC.

US officials have suggested that a Saudi bombmaker is the key suspect in last week's attempt to send the parcel bombs from Yemen to the US.

One bomb travelled on two passenger planes before being seized in Dubai.

Jabr al-Faifi is described as a former detainee at the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

After leaving Guantanamo he went through a rehabilitation programme in Saudi Arabia and then rejoined al-Qaeda in Yemen before turning himself in to Saudi authorities, AFP news agency reports.

He contacted Saudi government officials saying he wanted to return home and a handover was arranged through Yemen's government, interior ministry spokesman General Mansour al-Turki said.

Jabr al-Faifi is reported to be one of several former detainees from Guantanamo who were returned to Saudi Arabia for rehabilitation in December 2006.
If this is true, then it is perhaps a sign that the rehabilitation program has worked out. Jabr's double cross of al Qaeda means that al Qaeda can no longer trust those that return to the group and may make it harder to carry out future operations without having to worry about the group's intentions becoming knowledge of law enforcement and intel agencies.

Still, it is quite troublesome that former detainees have returned to al Qaeda in relatively high percentages and not all have provided intel to thwart terror operations.

Meanwhile, US intel agencies believe that a Saudi man was responsible for designing the bombs.
U.S. intelligence officials have named the chief suspect in the plot as Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who is believed to be a member of the leadership of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

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.
Despite all this, officials got lucky and almost missed catching the bombs before they made their way into the US.

Yemen is attempting to improve its security at its airports, but that's a tall order given that the bombs made their way onto several flights before ultimately being detected in the UAE and UK.

At the same time media reports from around the world want to make it sound like Yemen is the latest focus of the war on terror, even though Yemen has always been a significant threat as a failed state that sits astride major shipping lanes and has a porous border with Saudi Arabia and from which multiple terror attacks have been carried out - some of which predate the 9/11 attacks (think USS Cole). Failed states like Yemen continue to be a major threat as a breeding ground for terror training camps, recruitment centers, and areas of operation for terror groups because of inadequate or nonexistent law enforcement. It's one of the reasons why al Qaeda operates from places like in Afghanistan, the frontier provinces of Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.

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