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Ruppersberger Gives Insight On U.S. Intelligence Members' Afghan Trip, Foiled al-Qaeda Plot

BALTIMORE (WJZ)— There's new information in the foiled al-Qaeda plot to blow up a U.S.-bound plane. There's word that the person who was supposed to sneak on board with an underwear bomb was actually working for the CIA as a double agent.

Denise Koch has more.

An al-Qaeda plot to bomb a plane from Yemen to the United States was stopped just in time by the CIA and now we're learning how the agency got its hands on the sophisticated underwear bomb the terrorists planned to use. Officials say the would-be suicide bomber was working as an informant and turned the device over to intelligence officers as soon as he got it.

"Intelligence is the best defense against terrorism," said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger.

Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. He says this operation is a victory in the fight against terror.

"We, along with other countries, were able to get the information about who the suicide bomber was going to be, the type of bomb, we were able to get the bomb. The bomb is now at our FBI headquarters; we're analyzing that," he said.

Officials say the device had all the hallmarks of  Ibrahim al-Asiri, the mastermind behind the underwear bomb that failed over Detroit in 2009, as well as the 2010 attempt to hide explosives in toner cartridges shipped in cargo planes.

Ruppersberger is just back from Afghanistan after a trip with leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

Ruppersberger spent several days meeting with Afghan leaders and traveling to the Pakistan border region making sure U.S. intelligence personnel have the resources they need after U.S. troops pull out in 2014.

"We spent 10 years there. We have lost American lives and we want to make sure when we leave they are protected from another 9/11 attack," he said.

Ruppersberger's visit comes after the killing of Maryland National Guard Major Robert Marchanti in retaliation for the burning of Korans.

Since the attacks, the Afghan Army is being trained to identify threats within their ranks.

"It's extremely important that the Afghan military are trained well and stand up and stop them from the things they are doing: the attacks, the training of terrorists, the making of bombs," Ruppersberger said.

Meanwhile, he says al-Qaeda's intent is clear.

"They're planning to continue to attack in Afghanistan and also they're planning to attack us here in the United States," he said.

The would-be bomb did not contain any metallic parts and could have slipped through airport metal detectors. Officials are now trying to determine if it would have been spotted by body scanners.

Ruppersberger also met with members of the Maryland National Guard serving in Afghanistan.  More than 500 local soldiers have served there since the start of the war with four killed in action.

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