An assassination attempt, with emphasis on ass: the bomb was concealed in the orifice of choice for concealing items. I’d say convenient orifice, but it’s probably not all that convenient.
The bomb couldn’t be that big, and water (being a large fraction of the human body) isn’t very good shrapnel.
While the assassination proved unsuccessful, AQAP had been able to shift the operational paradigm in a manner that allowed them to achieve tactical surprise. The surprise was complete and the Saudis did not see the attack coming — the operation could have succeeded had it been better executed.
We know this wasn’t The Onion because there is no remark about how hindsight is 20-20, mention of a thorough probe of the incident, or talk of a push for new security measures. Or discussion of market penetration of security technology. (Oh, strike that last one. They say it here)
Via Schneier, who cautions us not to tell the TSA.