U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says the latest intelligence about an al-Qaida plot to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner is deeply alarming.
U.S. intelligence officials have reportedly learned that al-Qaida weapon specialists based in Yemen are collaborating with al-Nusrah Front, an al-Qaida affiliate in Syria, with the intention of smuggling a new type of explosive device onto passenger planes flying to the United States.
"It's something that gives us really extreme, extreme concern," Holder said in an interview with ABC News that aired on Sunday. "In some ways, it's more frightening than anything I think I've seen as attorney general."
Holder said a "deadly combination" had formed between skilled bomb designers and "people who have this kind of fervor to give their lives in support of a cause that is directed at the United States and directed at its allies."
In response to the intelligence, the Homeland Security Department has ordered new precautions at a handful of international airports. Those include specifically requiring that some passengers traveling to the United States show that they can switch on their digital devices in front of security officials.
The attorney general described the new protocols as "appropriate" and "prudent steps that are necessary to protect the flying public."
The extremist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which has captured recent international attention, thus far appears focused on cementing its territorial gains in the Middle East, Holder was quoted by the New York Times as saying.
However, "I think it's just a matter of time before they start looking outward and start looking at the West and at the United States in particular," he said.