SAN'A (Yemen) - A LEADING Al-Qaeda militant in Yemen who surrendered to Saudi Arabia provided information that helped thwart the mail bomb plot, Yemeni security officials said on Monday.

The officials said Jabir al-Fayfi, a Saudi militant who had joined Al-Qaeda in Yemen but handed himself over in late September, told Saudi officials about the plan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media. Several tribal leaders in Yemen with knowledge of the situation, who similarly spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed al-Fayfi's role.

US officials have said an alert from Saudi Arabia led to the interception on Friday of two explosive devices, hidden in packages addressed to Chicago-area synagogues, on planes transiting in Britain and Dubai. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror group's affiliate in Yemen, is suspected in the attempted bombing.

US officials have said the tip that came in just before the plot unravelled on Friday and was specific enough that it identified the tracking numbers of the packages. The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan on Monday cited Saudi security officials saying that the kingdom gave US investigators the tracking numbers.

It was not immediately known how Saudi Arabia obtained the numbers. But al-Fayfi surrendered in Yemen to Saudi authorities before the packages were mailed and would not likely have known the specific tracking numbers.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia announced that al-Fayfi had turned himself in. Al-Fayfi, who is in mid-30s, had been captured by US forces in Afghanistan following the 2001 toppling of the Taleban there. He was held at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until early 2007, when he was released to Saudi Arabia.

Al-Qaeda man tips off bomb