WASHINGTON, D.C. — (DMN) – U.S. officials say there is no credible terror threat against the United States on the 1-year anniversary of the raid that took out Osama bin Laden. At the same time, American and European security officials told ABC News today that they fear al Qaeda may soon try to explode U.S.-bound aircraft with explosives hidden inside the bodies of terrorists. As a result, security at several airports in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East has been substantially stepped up, with a focus on U.S. carriers.
Additional federal air marshals have also been shifted overseas in advance of the anniversary. A year ago Tuesday night, President Obama announced on live television that bin Laden had been killed in a U.S. raid on a compound in Pakistan. In an interview on ABC World News Tonight medical experts say there is plenty of room in the stomach area of the body for surgically implanted explosives. “The surgeon would open the abdominal cavity and literally implant the explosive device in amongst the internal organs,” explained Dr. Mark Melrose, a New York emergency medicine specialist.
Saudi fugitive Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri is shown in this handout photo from the Saudi interior Ministry of the most wanted terror suspects. (Saudi Interior Ministry/Landov)
For the last year, U.S. and European authorities have publicly warned that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate, and its master bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, have been designing body bombs with no metal parts to get past airport security. Security officials say they have been treating the intelligence seriously since first learning about it in 2011. Asiri placed a bomb inside the rectal cavity of his own brother for a suicide mission aimed at Saudi Arabian intelligence chief Prince Muhammad bin Nayef in 2009. That bomb exploded prematurely, officials said, and the only casualty was Asiri’s brother 23-yearold brother Abdullah. Asiri is also believed responsible for the “underwear bomb” with which Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to take down Northwest flight 253 on Christmas 2009, and for the printer bombs in the failed cargo bomb plot of 2010.
In public, U.S. officials say there is no credible information of an impending attack. But today, White House counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan called the al Qaeda group in Yemen the greatest threat to the U.S. “AQAP continues to be al Qaeda’s most active affiliate, and it continues to seek the opportunity to strike our homeland,” said Brennan during a speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C.
Brennan said bin Laden admitted al Qaeda had lost its way, agreeing that “a large portion” of Muslims around the world “have lost their trust” in al Qaeda. Confessing to “disaster after disaster” in al Qaeda plots, Brennan said, bin Laden urged leaders to feel to places “away from aircraft photography and bombardment.”