The US thinks the top bomb-maker for al Qaeda in Yemen is behind this latest plot.
The bomb, they say, has his signature: a more sophisticated version of the 2009 christmas underwear bomb, this time with no metal parts.
The FBI's analyzing it to see if it could've slipped through security.
"They keep trying to devise more and more perverse and terrible ways to kill innocent people," said Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.
"It's a reminder as to why we have to remain vigilant at home and abroad."
In a statement, the White House says the public was never in danger. The CIA seized the device before a suicide bomber ever bought a plane ticket or identified a target.
National Security Analsyst, Peter Bergen says, "it's really a record of failure. Well the desire is high, the capabilities are weak."
They believe the plan was to attack around the first anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden.
"The person who actually had the bomb, the exact language that was used for me was, 'we no longer have to be concerned about him,'" said New York Representitive Peter King.
Just Sunday, the US took down a top al Qaeda operative in an airstrike, wanted for the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors.
It's unclear if that operation was in response to this latest plan to attack the US. H
ours later, al Qaeda in Yemen attacked an army base, killing 22 soldiers. no word yet if that was in retaliation.