Chicago Flights Too Pricey For al-Qaida

An al-Qaida operative instead rerouted to Detroit, according to a report

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An al-Qaida operative considered launching his Christmas 2009 airline bombing above Chicago, but plane tickets were too expensive, the Associated Press reports.

    Houston was also on the list, but in the end he refocused the mission to Detroit, where tickets were cheaper.

    Suspected bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was arrested after the failed bombing attempt, but until now, reasons haven't been given for why Detroit was targeted.

    People with knowledge of the case told the AP Abdulmutallab considered Chicago but was discouraged by the cost. Current and former counterterrorism officials told the AP he also thought about Houston, where he attended an Islamic conference in 2008.

    The attack was highly organized, the AP reports, but the target was less important. It points to al-Qaida's Yemen branch not sharing Osama bin Laden's desire to attack symbolic targets.

    Abdulmutallab, 24, is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and conspiring with others to kill 281 passengers and 11 crew members aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253. He later admitted to the FBI that he intended to blow up the plane.