(RNN ) - NBC News is reporting that the double-agent used to bring down an alleged al Qaeda bomb plot is a British national.
The "spy," as NBC News calls him, is of Middle Eastern origin, but holds British passports - something that would have been appealing to terror cells.
The network did not reveal its source on that information, saying he spoke on condition of anonymity.
The plot originated within an al Qaeda terror cell located in Yemen.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said terror activity originating in Yemen is a major threat. The U.S. military and intelligence community will continue to go after al Qaeda there and elsewhere.
"The most recent threat has come out of Yemen, and it's for that reason that we will continue to take all steps necessary to go after those who threaten our country," he said.
The alleged bomb plot was aimed at a U.S. airliner, but was foiled when the "spy" handed the explosive device over to western intelligence officials.
The agent had been a jihadist "sympathizer," but was "turned" and recruited by Saudi anti-terrorism forces about a year ago, CNN reported. He apparently grew up in Europe.
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