Wonder why we still need a robust NSA terrorist surveillance program? At the 2013 Aspen Security Forum, Transportation Security Administration Chief John Pistole gave chilling details about the efforts of a master al Qaeda bomb maker to penetrate our defenses and detonate a new type of underwear bomb on planes headed for the United States.
Time magazine reports:
Speaking in unusual detail, Pistole offered specifics about an underwear bomb devised by a master al Qaeda bomb-maker in Yemen meant to be exploded in an airliner over the United States last year….
Pistole described the May 2012 bomb as “a next generation device” that was “new and improved in many respects” from the Christmas 2009 bomb. Designed by one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, Ibrahim al-Asiri, the device featured “a new type of explosive that we had never seen,” Pistole said. “All of our explosive detection equipment… wasn’t calibrated to detect that. And all of our 800 bomb-sniffing dogs had not been trained for that specific type.”
The use of a new explosive has been previously reported, but Pistole continued with less familiar details about Underwear 2 that reflect the growing sophistication of Asiri’s sinister craftsmanship. He said the device included redundancy, by means of two different syringes to mix liquid explosive compounds–”a double initiation system,” apparently a response to a failure of Abdulmutallab’s initiation process. In essence, Pistole said, “they made two devices.”
Finally, Pistole said, the new bomb was encased in simple household caulk in an effort to trap vapors that might alert any bomb-sniffing machines or dogs that did happen to be capable of identifying the explosive.
“So you really have a twisted genius in Yemen,” Ross observed. “That is our greatest threat,” Pistole replied. “All the intel folks here [at the forum] know that is a clear and present danger.”
Nothing to worry about here. We’ve dismantled our terrorist interrogation program. We’ve exposed the double agent inside al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, forcing his withdrawal. We’re scaling back drone strikes. And now (if panicked members of Congress have their way) we’ll soon be hamstringing our signals intelligence efforts against al Qaeda.