WASHINGTON—U.S. intelligence officials say a Saudi tip about a possible Al Qaeda effort to bring down airplanes was relayed to U.S. authorities in early October, nearly three weeks before the group’s Yemen affiliate tried to ship mail bombs in planes to the U.S.
The Saudi intelligence tip was the first warning that helped to head off what could have been a devastating series of plane explosions.
Western officials credit the Saudis with playing a crucial role in finding two mail bombs recovered last week in Dubai and Britain before they reached the U.S.
U.S. officials say the Saudi tip contained no mention of cargo planes, or any details of the plot.
But they say it gave the U.S. and other Western officials enough of a warning to know what to look for.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters.