The foiled plot to plant another 'underwear bomb' on a US airliner shows that as the core of Al Qaeda declines, affiliates like Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are taking the lead.
The bomb bears the audacious imprint of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which developed the device used by the would-be suicide bomber on an airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009. It is the third foiled effort by the Yemen-based group to carry out an attack on US soil.
It also makes the offshoot Al Qaeda group the No. 1 terrorist threat to the United States, top intelligence officials agree.
In the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden one year ago, so-called Al Qaeda “affiliates” have risen in importance and “will surpass the core Al Qaeda remaining in Pakistan” in its ability to threaten the United States,” says Robert Cardillo, deputy director for intelligence integration with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Not only will AQAP and other affiliates “seek opportunities to strike Western interests in its operating area,” they will continue to target Americans in the United States as well, Mr. Cardillo adds.
To do so, the terrorist group is finding new ways to spread and morph, Rep. Peter King (R) of New York, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN this week. “They are very able scientists,” he added. “These are sophisticated people. They never stop.”