Intelligence services in the United Kingdom are now getting pulled into the story of the foiled airline bomb plot as it's been revealed that the mole who infiltrated al Qaeda in Yemen was actually a British citizen. According to reports about the spy's identity, the agent was of Saudi origin, but had lived in Europe for some time and held a UK passport. This would have made him a particularly attractive recruit to al Qaeda leaders as he could travel to the United States without a visa. The man had also become known to "jihadist sympathizers" in the UK, even before he was enlisted to join counter-terrorism efforts back in the Middle East. The agent was apparently trained and controlled by Saudi Arabian intelligence services, but reportedly worked with closely with both MI5 and MI6 — Britain's domestic and foreign intelligence agencies — and the CIA.
However, this latest revelation is only adding to concerns that the public already knows way too much about the Yemen operation and that future intelligence work could be compromised due to all the leaks. According to Reuters, the British put "heavy pressure" on the American to not reveal their role in the investigation and that the operation could have gone on for several more weeks (potentially gathering more information and targets) had the U.S. media not got wind of it and planned to report. The stories that have emerged show an exceptional level of cooperation between the various foreign intelligence agencies, but the cooperation could be harder to come by if the outsider believe the U.S. government can't keep a secret.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.