The call that saved America

Thursday - 11/11/2010, 11:29am EST

JJ Green, National Security Correspondent

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All week in my series Target America, I've looked at the package bomb threat, the ingenuity that Al Qaida displayed when it came up with cleverly disguised bombs concealed in printer cartidges. British officials said yesterday, they were designed to explode over the east coast of the U.S..

Phillip Mudd, former Deputy Director of the CIA Counter Terrorism Center and a top FBI National Security official and Fred Burton, V.P. of Intelligence told me well before the announcement from the U.K. that was the goal.

I had an exclusive interview with John Pistole, TSA administrator three days before the plot was exposed and he made a reference to concern about the bomb-maker for the "Underwear Bomber" still being at large.

At the time, it sounded like the same worry officials had repeated over and over since the failed attack last Christmas Day, but when President Obama announced the plot had been dusrupted on October 29th, I had an *aha* moment. There was a connection between the Christmas Day event and this last plot -- the bomb-maker is likely the same.

That is a testiment to al Qaida's growing expertise in bomb-making. But they're not there yet.

However, had it not been for an informant who'd infiltrated al Qaida in the Arabian peninsula, those bombs might have gone off.

It was a decision from Saudi intelligence to call their U.S. counterparts about their suspicions that saved the day, many lives and indeed the collective security of the U.S. because multiple airplanes exploding almost simultaneously would likely have plunged the nation in a panic very similar to that of 9/11.

The decision by the U.S. and Saudi intelligence to work together despite political differences that staved off that day...at least for now.