British intelligence played a central role in the undercover operation involving a supposed new underwear bomb threat from an al-Qaeda off-shoot in Yemen.

The government this week announced it had foiled an attempt to blow up an airliner with an improved version of the underwear bomb used in the failed attempt to destroy a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day 2009.

Subsequently, media reports published official leaks revealing the would-be bomber was actually a CIA informant with ties to Saudi intelligence.

Now it is revealed that the undercover informant was a British citizen, possibly of Saudi origin, working in cooperation with Britain’s two top spy agencies, MI5 and MI6. British authorities put heavy pressure on the Obama administration not to disclose Britain’s role.

U.S. officials initially tried to take credit for foiling the so-called terrorist attack, only to be rather embarrassed once the CIA involvement was made public.

However, Washington is still trying to use the incident to raise the fears of Americans to support a more ubiquitous national security state.

It has also been reported that the undercover agent who foiled an al Qaida plot to blow up an airliner with an underwear bomb is a British national.

UK intelligence were said to have been "heavily involved" in recruiting the spy who infiltrated a terror group in Yemen in a rare coup for Western agencies.

Quoting sources briefed by Saudi counter-terrorism officials, US television networks said the individual grew up in Europe where he was apparently radicalized.

He was subsequently "turned" and recruited by Saudi agents last year, they said.

The reports were neither being confirmed nor denied in the UK.

Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is believed to have been planning the spectacular attack with a nearly-undetectable device around the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden. But the individual chosen to carry out the attack was an informant who handed over the bomb.

US officials said the would-be bomber was supposed to board a plane to the US and detonate the device inside the country. The CIA became aware of the plot last month.

Source: Press TV