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Saudi tip-off 'helped on bomb plot'

A Saudi tip about a possible al Qaida effort to bring down planes 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.

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

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.

The Saudi tip in October contained no mention of cargo planes, or any details of the plot carried out last week, said US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters.

But they said it gave the US and other Western officials enough of a warning to know what to look for when another Saudi tip arrived last week.

A CIA spokesman cited several allies that have provided key intelligence about terrorist activities.

"Over the past several months, we received intelligence - which was shared across our government - from our foreign partners about threats from Aqap and other terrorist groups," said CIA spokesman George Little.

"The United States receives this kind of information from other governments on a regular basis, as you would expect. Last week, we received specific intelligence that allowed the United States and our allies to disrupt the cargo plot. Our actions were swift and aggressive."

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