WASHINGTON - The FBI is investigating an explosive device that could have been used by a suicide bomber on an airliner, and which was seized when the United States and its partners thwarted a plot believed linked to al Qaeda, US officials said on Monday.
They said no plane was actually at risk.
They said the device was a redesigned model of the bomb used by the so-called "underwear bomber", who failed to blow up an airliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009. That plot originated in Yemen.
President Barack Obama was first informed about the latest plot in April and has received regular updates, Caitlin Hayden, deputy National Security Council spokeswoman, said.
"This device has the hallmarks of previous AQAP bombing attempts," a counter-terrorism official said on condition of anonymity, referring to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
"The plot was disrupted well before it threatened American or U.S. allies, the official said, adding that no airliner had been at risk from this device.
The FBI said it was in possession of the device and was conducting technical and forensic analysis on it.
"Initial exploitation indicates that the device is very similar to IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) that have been used previously by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in attempted terrorist attacks, including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations," the FBI said in a statement.