News Wrap: CIA Reportedly Foils New al-Qaida Underwear Bomb Plot
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KWAME HOLMAN: The political shocks in Europe spooked world markets for a time, but they mostly recovered as the day wore on. On Wall Street, stocks swung back and forth. The Dow Jones industrial average ended with a loss of more than 29 points to close at 13,008. The Nasdaq rose a point to close at 2,957.
There was word today that the CIA disrupted a plot to bomb an airliner around the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death. The Associated Press reported an al-Qaida operative in Yemen planned to explode an underwear bomb.
We get more now from Adam Goldman of the Associated Press.
Adam, what exactly did the CIA unravel here?
ADAM GOLDMAN, Associated Press: Thanks for having me.
Well, the CIA unraveled a plot that originated with al-Qaida in Arabian Peninsula, AQAP. AQAP had intended to stash a bomb in the underwear of a suicide bomber and try to bring down a U.S.-bound plane.
KWAME HOLMAN: Adam, this all took place in Yemen?
ADAM GOLDMAN: Well, the plot did originate in Yemen and unfolded, we believe, in the last two weeks.
KWAME HOLMAN: Adam, your and your colleagues’ reporting indicates this was an underwear bomb, as you say, but different from the 2009 attempt to bomb the jetliner inbound flight to Detroit?
ADAM GOLDMAN: Yes, that’s right.
The one that was used in 2009 malfunctioned, most likely from moisture.
This was an upgrade on. . .
KWAME HOLMAN: So. . .
ADAM GOLDMAN: This was an upgrade on that model and had an improved ignition system.
KWAME HOLMAN: Explain — explain what you learned about that. Would it have gotten past — you talked in your reporting about whether it might have gotten past security checkpoints.
ADAM GOLDMAN: Well, the bomb right now is being taken apart by FBI explosive effort — experts in Quantico, Va.
I think they’re trying to determine that. And I think the U.S. is uncertain whether it would have in fact gotten past U.S. security and how much explosive force the bomb contained and whether it could have brought down a plane.
KWAME HOLMAN: Adam, your and your colleagues’ reporting indicates that you had been in discussions with the U.S. government about holding this story, decided to go with it today. The government did not want this story reported.
ADAM GOLDMAN: Well, this is what I can say about why we decided to publish and why we didn’t.
Last week, my colleague Matt Apuzzo and I learned about this plot as it was unfolding. And we agreed for national security reasons that we would not publish. Once those concerns had passed, we decided today that the public had a right to know that the U.S. had thwarted what we consider to be a very serious plot against U.S. — against aviation.
KWAME HOLMAN: Do you expect an announcement shortly from the government?
ADAM GOLDMAN: I think the White House has already acknowledged that — that in fact they did thwart a plot, and the FBI too has put out a public statement saying they have the bomb in their hands.
KWAME HOLMAN: Adam Goldman of the Associated Press, thank you very much.
A CIA drone strike killed a top al-Qaida leader in Yemen on Sunday. Fahd al-Quso was linked to the bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 U.S. sailors in 2000. He’d been on the FBI’s most wanted list. Hours later, militants in southern Yemen killed 22 government soldiers and captured 25.
The key suspect in the 2002 nightclub bombing in Bali apologized today in a courtroom in Indonesia. Umar Patek is a leading member of Jemaah Islamiyah, a network linked to al-Qaida. He told the victims’ families he’d been against the bombings from the start. Patek allegedly built the bombs that killed more than 200 people in Bali. He was arrested last year in Pakistan.
Amid the political upheavals in Europe, Vladimir Putin was sworn in as president of Russia today. He has been in power since 2000, first as president and then as prime minister. Putin took the oath of office in a brief and lavish ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow. He swore to uphold democracy.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russian president (through translator): We want to live, and we will live in a democratic country where everyone has the freedom and opportunity to apply one’s talent, labor and efforts. We want to and we will live in a successful Russia that is respected in the world as a reliable, open, honest, and predictable partner. I believe in the force of our common goals and ideals.
KWAME HOLMAN: But outside, in the streets of Moscow, thousands of opposition protesters lined the route Putin’s motorcade took to the Kremlin. Many were arrested. On Sunday, tens of thousands took part in a rally against Putin. Violence broke out, and hundreds were arrested.
Today, some of those activists were released.
SERGEI UDALTSOV, Russian political activist (through translator): What happened yesterday at that square was a provocation by the authorities who initiated this jam, who initiated the arrests, clashes and who are now trying to accuse us of it. We know it is not true. They disrupted a legal rally. And, today, I know many people were coming out to the streets against the illegitimate inauguration. I believe we should continue the activity.
KWAME HOLMAN: Putin’s new six-year presidential term will keep him in power until 2018, with the option to run for a fourth term.
Syrians went to the polls today to vote in parliamentary elections. For the first time in decades, they cast ballots under a new constitution that allows other political parties to run against the ruling Baath Party. Opposition activists boycotted, charging the vote was a sham.
A bombing in Eastern Afghanistan has killed three NATO troops. The announcement brought to 142 the number of coalition deaths this year. Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned a new security deal with the U.S. will be meaningless if civilian deaths continue. He said NATO airstrikes killed dozens of Afghans in recent days. The alliance said it’s investigating.
A major copyright infringement fight led to a deadlocked jury today in San Francisco. Oracle wanted up to $1 billion in damages, alleging that Google’s Android phone software uses stolen code. The jury agreed that Google infringed on Oracle’s patents, but it could not agree on whether it was fair use. That means any damages will be far smaller.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.