There are undoubtedly details yet to come, but from the facts so far Saudi intelligence and the CIA have pulled off a brilliant intelligence coup. A double agent, presumably a Saudi, pretending to be a willing suicide bomber, penetrated the inner circles of the Yemen-based al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. He was provided with a 2.0 version of the underwear bomb that failed to explode aboard a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009 because of a defective detonator.
The updated bomb is sleeker and, according to the Associated Press, designed to be slipped inside form-fitting, brief-style underwear. It has no metal parts and, as a fail-safe measure, two detonators.
In 2010, Saudi intelligence thwarted another al-Asiri plot when it intercepted printer-cartridge bombs placed aboard UPS and FedEx cargo planes bound for Chicago.
The successful operation points up how much the destruction of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and disruption of its operations in Pakistan have caused the terrorists to decamp to Yemen.
The intelligence coup that foiled al-Qaida's latest plot for a mass killing of Americans underscores the dangers of complacency and the need for relentless vigilance.
CIA officials complain that the public only hears of its failures, not its successes. Well, this operation was a triumph. Well done.