The Obama administration is worried that al-Qaeda-linked terrorists in Syria have linked up with a veteran al-Qaeda branch in Yemen to develop new explosives to target commercial aircraft, ABC News reported.
The White House is considering asking allies overseas to enhance security at their airports, as well as examining measures to take within the United States, in light of the threat.
US intelligence believes that members of the al-Nusrah Front, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, have linked up with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in order to develop a plot to down a plane headed to the US or Europe. Officials are worried that jihadist fighters in Syria who hold US or European passports would be central to the plot.
According to the report, senior intelligence officials discussed the threat this week at the White House.
A source told ABC that this threat “is different and more disturbing than past aviation plots.”
US officials have been developing new measures since the beginning of the year. According to a source, changes could include more random screenings or more screening based on certain passenger profiles.
The US has not learned of any specific timeline or target.
The warnings about toothpaste and cosmetics bombs around the Sochi Winter Olympics also grew out of this threat.
“This is exactly the kind of threat that keeps me up at night,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (MI-R) told ABC.
AQAP has tried creative bombs on planes in the past, including the failed 2009 Christmas Day “underwear bomb.”