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Updated: December 29, 2009 03:18 IST

Al-Qaeda reportedly claims responsibility for failed attack on U.S. plane

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EYE OF THE STORM: This image made from video shows security personnel at the bottom of the stairs of the Northwest Airlines Flight 253.
EYE OF THE STORM: This image made from video shows security personnel at the bottom of the stairs of the Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

Al-Qaeda has reportedly claimed responsibility for the failed attack on a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day, saying the attempt to blow up the plane was in retaliation for Washington’s role in helping the Yemeni government combat militants in the country.

IntelCenter, a private firm which monitors terrorist activity, said al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, posted a statement on a website saying that it was behind the failed plot to blow up Delta/Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it descended to land in Detroit from Amsterdam on Friday.

There were 278 people on the flight.

AQAP also released a photo of the suspect who has been charged with trying to detonate the explosives, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and praised him for having the “courage” to carry out the attack.

“With courage he was able to breach all the modern and sophisticated technologies and checkpoints at the airports around the world, putting his faith in God fearing no death,” AQAP said.

“His act has dealt a huge blow to the myth of American and global intelligence services and showed how fragile its structures are,” it said.

Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian, is believed to have received training and the explosives from al-Qaeda in Yemen. Yemen, whose government struggles to control the country, has been a growing source of concern for U.S. officials as it appears al-Qaeda has been seeking a foothold there.

Abdulmutallab reportedly told officials about his connection to the terrorist network, and that he obtained the materials in Yemen, after he was detained on Friday.

The U.S. government has stepped up its efforts to help the Yemeni government fight al-Qaeda, including financial aid and intelligence showing locations of the militants, and there are reports of covert U.S. operations in the country.

“We have a growing presence there ... of special operations, Green Berets, intelligence,” Senator Joseph Lieberman said on Fox News on Sunday.

“Iraq was yesterday’s war. Afghanistan is today’s war. If we don’t act quickly, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war,” he said.

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