A singed pair of underwear with a packet of powder sewn into the crotch, seen in government photos obtained exclusively by ABC News, is all that remains of al Qaeda's attempt to down an American passenger plane over Detroit.
…the alleged bomb consisted of a packet of powder sewn into the briefs of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian. Al Qaeda took credit Monday for the attempted bombing, boasted of its ability to overcome U.S. intelligence and airport security, and promised new attacks.
It is a six-inch long packet of the high explosive chemical called PETN, less than a half cup in volume, weighing about 80 grams.
A government test with 50 grams of PETN blew a hole in the side of an airliner. That was the amount in the bomb carried by the so-called shoe bomber Richard Reid over Christmas 2001.
The underpants bomb would have been one and a half times as powerful.
…Tragedy was averted only because the detonator, acid in a syringe, did not work.
The acid in the melted plastic syringe…caused a fire but did not make proper contact with the PETN.
Abdulmutallab told FBI agents he received the bomb from and was trained by al Qaeda in Yemen over the last few months. In a web posting today, the al Qaeda group displayed a picture of Abdulmutallab, calling him a hero who "overcame legendary American intelligence which showed its fragility, putting its nose in the ground, using all of what they spent in new security techniques against them."
The al Qaeda group in Yemen has been calling for attacks against the U.S. for months.
Two of its four top leaders were U.S. prisoners at Guantanamo until November, 2007 when they were turned over to Saudi Arabia and then set free after supposedly being rehabilitated.
Now U.S. officials say these men have shown they pose a much greater operational threat than al Qaeda in Pakistan or Afghanistan.
Richard Clarke: Yemen is the new Afghanistan. It is the new sanctuary, the new al Qaeda base where people from around the world, who want to be trained are sent. No longer to Afghanistan, but to Yemen.
RICHARD ESPOSITO and BRIAN ROSS
ABC, Dec. 28, 2009