Terrorists are teaming up in Syria to create bombs that are harder to detect

Airlines are on alert for explosives

(WXYZ) - It’s a merger that has security experts on edge:  terrorist groups teaming up to make new kinds of bombs that we haven’t seen before.

At this point there’s no specific target, but the intelligence that’s streaming in to the U-S is pretty alarming.

There’s an alliance taking place between terrorists in Syria and Yemen, and they’re working together to build the next generation of bombs that could be smuggled onto planes.

The U.S. government has new intelligence that an Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria – the Al Nusrah front – is joining forces with operatives from Al Qaeda’s satellite in Yemen.

Their goal is to produce creative new bombs.

The Yemen group is known for innovative explosive making; they were behind a 2010 plot to take down cargo planes with printer bombs, as well as the 2009 Christmas Day underwear bomb plot.

Andrew Arena was the Detroit FBI Special Agent in Charge at the time that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up that airliner as it approached metro airport.

“Traditionally you think of New York, you think of Washington as the main targets, but it can be anywhere.   The underwear bomber, he chose Detroit because that was the cheapest ticket he could get in the United States,” said Arena.

Arena, who now heads the Detroit Crime Commission, says the unrest in countries like Iraq and Syria allows terrorists to take hold.

“It’s our intelligence community, CIA, NSA, FBI, and it’s working closely with other countries, the Brits, the Canadians, the French,  to identify these individuals overseas,” said Arena.  “Right now, we’ve got a real problem, with all these wars going on, this is training ground central for radical extremists.”

While there is no specific threat at this point, some U. S. analysts believe the terrorists are trying to develop hard-to-detect bombs that would target U. S. or European bound planes.

Officials are calling this an “unholy alliance” -- Al Qaeda in Yemen’s bomb-making expertise,  which is now in Syria, teaming up with Al Nusrah.  Al Nusrah has thousands of foreign fighters with U. S. and European passports.

“There are now thousands of foreign fighters in Syria, who are gaining training, gaining new relationships and are going to flow back out of Syria at some point,” said FBI Director James Comey during a visit to Detroit in April.  Comey said monitoring the terrorist training in Syria is a top priority.

“We just want to be vigilant to make sure there aren’t any lines drawn between what’s going on in Syria now and future attacks in the U.S.,” said Comey.

The concerns about the new improvised explosives first surfaced earlier this year, which prompted warnings to the airlines about bombs hidden in toothpaste and cosmetics.