An al-Qaida bomb-making terrorist is believed to have been killed in a joint operation by U.S. and Yemen special forces, in what could be "the biggest hit" since Osama bin Laden.
The Times of London
reported that tests were being conducted on a body Tuesday night to see whether it was that of Ibrahim al-Asiri, who designed underwear and computer cartridge bombs to detonate on American aircraft and U.S.-bound planes.
If confirmed, it would be the most senior member of the terrorist organization to have been killed since bin Laden was shot dead by U.S. special forces in May 2011.
The news of al-Asiri’s alleged death comes just days after a video surfaced showing a meeting of 100 members of al-Qaida
The Daily Mail
reported that the attack on al-Asiri was part of a weekend operation in Yemen against al-Qaida terrorists that resulted in the death of at least 55 militants.
The troops, who had been dropped off in a remote area by helicopter, engaged in a brief battle with alleged militants inside a sport-utility vehicle. The occupants of the SUV, which was riddled with bullets, were all shot dead.
The special forces were accompanied by sniffer dogs to help identify the occupants, and one of them was confirmed as a "high value militant," according to the reports.
A witness, Obeid Awad, was quoted as saying, "Minutes after the car was hit, we saw helicopters hovering overhead and military cars spreading. Soldiers were seen disembarking from one of the helicopters. After they left, we found the struck car but we could not find any body parts."
Al-Asiri’s most chilling talent has been the invention of bombs that can evade even the most sophisticated, state-of-the art detection systems. One of them, the so-called "body bomb," can be surgically implanted inside a human being.
A former chemistry teacher, al-Asiri is said to have sewed explosives into the underwear of his brother and fellow terrorist, Abdullah, who acted as a suicide bomber and ended up dying in the ill-fated attack.
He was also the mastermind behind the bomb that came close to killing Saudi Prince Muhammed Bin Nayef in 2009.
And he was responsible for the Christmas Day bomb plot when a Nigerian man attempted unsuccessfully to detonate an "underwear bomb"
aboard a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was severely burned in the attempt.
Al-Asiri was also tied to a bomb plot in which explosive ink cartridges were intercepted on cargo planes aboard flights from Britain and Dubai en route from Yemen to the United States, the Daily Mail reported.
Al-Asiri’s explosives are mostly made of liquids that contain no metal, allowing them to pass through many detectors without alarms going off.
The liquid explosives are believed to have been developed in tandem with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based Islamist group.
Late on Tuesday, an investigation was being conducted to verify the identity of the militants, but the reports from Britain said that "the leaders of the organization" in Yemen had all been killed.
It was also claimed that the dead included he Arabian Peninsula AQAP leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi.
Al-Asiri was raised in a military family in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and spent time in jail for attempting to sneak into Iraq to join Islamist insurgents. At 27, he was named as one of Saudi Arabia’s most wanted terrorists and two years later was added to a similar U.S. list.
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