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UPI NewsTrack TopNews

May 9, 2012 at 8:06 AM   |   Comments

Officials: Al-Qaida bomber was really spy

WASHINGTON, May 9 (UPI) -- The bomber in a foiled al-Qaida plot to blow up a U.S.-bound jetliner was actually a spy who gave key information to the CIA, U.S. and foreign officials said.

The unidentified double agent, who works for the Saudi intelligence service, persuaded al-Qaida bomb makers in Yemen to give him a new bomb, designed to be undetectable at airport security checks, as well as vital inside information about the group's leaders, locations, methods and plans, officials told several news organizations.

The agent funneled the information to U.S., Saudi and allied foreign intelligence agencies, the officials said.

One key piece of information led to the CIA's Sunday drone attack that killed senior al-Qaida militant Fahd al-Quso, 37, a suspect in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole warship in Yemen, U.S. officials said.

That suicide bombing killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured 39 others.

The informant -- who U.S. officials said operated in Yemen with the full knowledge of the CIA but not under its direct supervision -- handed over the new bomb to the FBI, which was analyzing its properties at its Quantico, Va., laboratory, officials said.

The informant is safe in hiding at an undisclosed Saudi location, officials said.


Russian plane disappears on demo flight

JAKARTA, May 9 (UPI) -- A Russian airplane on a demonstration flight in Jakarta, Indonesia, disappeared from radar Wednesday, Indonesian aviation officials said.

Indonesian authorities suggested the airplane could have been hijacked or crashed into a mountain because of poor visibility, RIA Novosti said.

Forty-four people, including eight Russians and 36 foreign nationals, were on board the Sukhoi Superjet 100 plane when it failed to return to the airport after the demonstration flight, officials said.

Air traffic controllers said the pilots requested permission to descend from 10,000 feet to 6,000 feet shortly before radio contact was lost. After it was cleared, the plane began turning right and descending, then disappeared from the radar at 6,200 feet in a mountainous area about 40 nautical miles from the Jakarta airport, controllers said.

The airplane was in Jakarta as part of a demonstration tour of six Asian countries, RIA Novosti said.

The Superjet 100 is a medium-haul passenger plane manufactured by Sukhoi in cooperation with U.S. and European aviation corporations, officials said. It can carry 100 passengers for about 2,800 miles. Russian officials said in February 10 SSJ-100 airplanes would be exported in 2012.


Gun found in carry-on bag at R.I. airport

WARWICK, R.I., May 9 (UPI) -- A man and his son were questioned after a gun and ammunition were found hidden inside stuffed animals at an airport in Rhode Island, officials said.

Security officials at T.F. Green Airport says the weapon, which was disassembled and hidden in three stuffed animals inside a carry-on bag, appears to be linked to a domestic issue and was not a security threat, WPRI-TV, Providence, reported Tuesday.

The gun and ammunition were spotted Monday when the bag went through an airport X-ray monitor, a Transportation Security Administration official said.

WPRI-TV said the weapons were confiscated and the father and son were allowed to continue on Pinnacle Flight 4036 from Providence to Detroit after questioning.

The incident remains under investigation, WPRI-TV said.


N.C. gay-marriage ban prompts cheers, ire

RALEIGH, N.C., May 9 (UPI) -- North Carolina's overwhelming approval of a constitutional amendment declaring marriage solely between a man and a woman brought outrage on both sides.

A supporter of the amendment in Cabarrus County, about 20 miles northeast of Charlotte, showed himself in a YouTube video firing a shotgun twice at a neighbor's lawn sign that encouraged people to vote against the amendment, a United Press International review of the video indicated.

"That's how we deal with it around here," said the man, who identified himself in the video as Alex Wylde.

Anti-amendment voter Cameron Hughes, 25, told The (Raleigh) News & Observer he considered the amendment "an embarrassment" and "pathetic."

"I'm ashamed to have to come out here and vote on something like this, and, if the polls are right, I'm ashamed that apparently a large majority of the citizens of my state are pro-bigotry," he said.

Campaigners for and against the amendment -- which passed 61 percent to 39 percent Tuesday -- called a steady stream of complaints into the Wake County Board of Elections in Raleigh in the day, each side complaining about the opponents' alleged illegal electioneering.


Zimmerman absent as not guilty plea made

SANFORD, Fla., May 9 (UPI) -- The Florida man accused of killing an unarmed teenager skipped a court hearing in which his attorney entered a plea of not guilty to second-degree murder.

George Zimmerman's absence at Tuesday's hearing in Sanford, Fla., was expected.

Zimmerman attorney Mark O'Mara waived his right to a speedy trial, saying he "needs additional time to prepare" for the case, ABC News reported.

O'Mara has told ABC News he would try to extend the process to allow racial tensions and emotions bought on by the case to subside.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., will be tried for the Feb. 26 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed. He said he shot the teen in self defense under Florida's Stand Your Ground law.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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