Washington: The suicide bomber dispatched by the terrorist leaders of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula to blow up a US plane was in fact a double agent who worked for the Saudi intelligence agency, a media report said.

The plot, unearthed last month, was made public on Monday after the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said the bomb was similar to that of the underwear bomber of 2009, but was a bit more sophisticated and technically advanced.

"In an extraordinary intelligence coup, the double agent left Yemen last month, traveling by way of the United Arab Emirates, and delivered both the innovative bomb designed for his aviation attack and inside information on the group's leaders, locations, methods and plans to Central Intelligence Agency, Saudi intelligence and allied foreign intelligence agencies," The New York Times reported.

According to the daily, after spending weeks at the centre of Al Qaeda's most dangerous affiliate, intelligence agent provided critical information that permitted the CIA to direct the drone strike on Sunday that killed Fahd Mohammed Ahmed al-Quso, the group's external operations director and a suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000.

"He also handed over the bomb, designed by the group's top explosives expert to be undetectable at airport security checks, to the FBI, which is analysing its properties at its laboratory in Virginia," the report said, adding the agent is now safe in Saudi Arabia.

In an interview, John Brennan, chief counter-terrorism adviser to US President, said it took very close cooperation with international partners to unearth this plot.

"This is something that we have really emphasised over the past many years, working very closely with our Yemeni partners, because AQAP poses a serious threat to us," he said.

(Agencies)

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