Al-Qaida bomber Umar Abdulmutallab's plot to blow up a plane with a bomb hidden in his underwear might have been successful if he had better hygiene and changed his undergarments more often, a senior Transportation Security Administration official says.
Instead, TSA Administrator John Pistole, a former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said Abdulmutallab had worn the bomb-packed underwear for two weeks before boarding a Detroit-bound airliner from Great Britain on Christmas Day in 2009, reports The Telegraph
"He had it with him for over two weeks," Pistole said during a forum discussion at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.
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And when the interviewer asked if the bomb's fuse got "damp" after Abdulmutallab wore the same underwear for two weeks, Pistole said "let's say it was degraded. We're getting kind of personal now."
As a result, the accused Nigerian al-Qaida terrorist was able to light the bomb, but it would not detonate. He ended up with burns, but the plane's passengers were spared.
Pistole chuckled with the interviewer when she remarked "thank goodness for bad hygiene, right?"
Abdulmutallab is now 27 years old and spending life in prison for his attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder for the bomb, which was made by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the terror group's branch in Yemen.
He pleaded guilty in October 2011
, telling a federal judge that he "intended to wreck a U.S. aircraft for the U.S. wreckage of Muslim lands and property" and that he had wanted to kill the nearly 300 people on board Flight 253.
Passengers jumped on him when they saw smoke and fire coming from his pants from the failed bomb attempt.
Passengers testified that Abdulmutallab had been in the plane's bathroom for about 10-15 minutes before the incident, and prosecutors said he was preparing himself for martyrdom.
Meanwhile, Ibrahim al-Asiri, the alleged al-Qaida bomb-making terrorist who designed underwear and computer cartridge bombs to detonate on American aircraft and planes heading for the United States, is believed to have been killed
in a joint operation by U.S. and Yemen special forces, in April.
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