(CBS News) - The FBI has an explosive device that was supposedly going to be used by al Qaeda to take down an airplane headed for the United States.
Specialists from the FBI are picking apart the bomb. They want to know if it could have made it past airport security and onto to a plane.
Intelligence agents say the device is a more refined version of the so-called "underwear bomb" that malfunctioned on board a plane over Detroit on Christmas in 2009.
"What the FBI is doing is taking a look at the IED construction to see what type of refinements and modifications have been made since then," said John Brennan, White House Counterterror Advisor.
Officials say the bomb didn't use any metal. However, it's possible new full-body scanners at about 170 U.S. airports may have detected the device.
President Obama's counterterrorism adviser says CIA agents worked with a number of international partners to foil this plot. Officials say Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and other terrorist groups are still a real threat.
"They keep trying to find more and more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
U.S. officials say Ibrahim Al Asiri likely designed the new device. He also created the underwear bomb and hid explosives in toner cartridges shipped on cargo planes in 2010.
Someone else would have carried out this attack.
"We are confident that this device and any individual who might have been designed to use it are no longer a threat to the American people," said Brennan.
Officials say the alleged bomber never had a chance to pick a plane or date to carry out the plot.
While there are no immediate plans to change security procedures at U.S. airports, officials say they are constantly updating the screening process to stay ahead of terrorists trying to evade security measures.