CNN is reporting new details about the alleged double-agent credited with foiling Al Qaeda in the Arabian Penisula’s latest underwear bomb plot. Some of the details square with what has previously been reported, while others complicate the picture.
The network spoke with two sources “briefed by Saudi counterterrorism officials,” and came away with the following bits of information:
- Saudi intelligence was involved with the infiltrator “from A to Z.”
- The infiltrator had moved in the “jihadist orbit” in Saudi Arabia before being recruited.
- The infiltrator was sent to Yemen “months and months” ago, after Saudi sources got word that AQAP was preparing an attack on U.S. aviation.
- The infiltrator reported that the bomb device was being built, and the Saudis then informed the U.S. about it.
- Saudi counterterrorism chief Prince Mohammed bin Nayef was in charge of the operation.
- Saudi officials are upset about the information being reported, as they have a number of operatives inside AQAP that could be compromised by leaks.
- CNN sources questioned reports that the infiltrator provided information that lead to the drone strike against AQAP figure Fahd al-Quso last weekend.
Meanwhile, even as new information about the foiled plot drips out, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has ordered an internal review — though not yet a formal investigation — to try to find out if leaks about the operation came from any of the 16 agencies he oversees, CNN reports.
“We are looking internally to determine whether or not there were unauthorized disclosures of classified information,” a U.S. intelligence official said.
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com