The informant was apparently working for the CIA and Saudi Arabian intelligence when he was given the bomb. He quickly turned the device over to authorities.
Officials say the informant was taken safely out of Yemen.
The al Qaeda plot involved sending a suicide bomber on a U.S.-bound plane around the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death. It is not yet clear who built the bomb, but because it is similar to failed Christmas 2009 underwear bomb, it is believe to be the work of Ibrahim al-Asiri, an al Qaeda bomb designer.
The latest non-metallic version of the bomb has what is being called a highly redefined detonation system. It is unclear if airport full-body scanners, explosive trace detectors and bomb-sniffing dogs could have detected it.
As of now, there are no new changes to airport security in the U.S. because of the device. However 10 days ago, U.S. air marshal teams were placed on every U.S.-bound plane from select European airports. That protocol is not expected to change any time soon.
"Terrorist are determined to design explosive devices and conceal them in ways that make them undetectable to all but the most intrusive searches," said Brian Michael Jenkins of the Rand Corporation. "And the public is not willing to put up with the most intrusive searches."
The latest plot proves just how determined al Qaeda is to take down a commercial airliner, and the advances they are making to do so. With the bomb's creator still at large, there is concern that other bombs just like the one seized in Yemen may be manufactured in the near future.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.