WASHINGTON — A Saudi tip about a possible al-Qaida effort to bring down airplanes was relayed to US authorities in early October, nearly three weeks before the group's Yemen affiliate tried to ship mail bombs to the US in cargo planes, US intelligence officials said Friday.
The Saudi intelligence tip helped to head off what could have been a devastating series of plane explosions. Western officials credit the Saudis with playing a crucial role in finding two mail bombs recovered last week in Dubai and Britain before they reached the US.
On Friday, the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for sending the two bombs and threatened more attacks on civilian and cargo planes. The group also said it had a role in the crash of a UPS cargo plane in Dubai in September, but investigators so far have insisted an accident was at fault.