Al Qaeda Chief Explosives Expert Dead in 'Unprecedented' US Op.
Reports indicate that a massive US military operation in Yemen on Saturday and Sunday killed well over 55 Al Qaeda terrorists. Among the dead reportedly is Ibrahim al-Asiri, the chief bombmaker of the terrorist organization.
A 4x4 truck which the 32-year-old al-Asiri was thought to be in was ambushed by US special forces over the weekend, according to the Daily Mail.
The US special forces, who were dropped in by helicopter, reportedly took position by the road and waited for the truck to arrive before showering it with a hail of bullets. While the occupants managed to fire back, all were killed in the barrage.
Trained dogs were used by soldiers to identify those in the truck, and troops later confirmed that one was a "high value militant." If the rumors of al-Asiri's death are true, he would be the most senior Al Qaeda terrorist killed since Osama Bin Laden in May 2011.
Al-Asiri is considered an explosives expert, and was the mastermind behind the failed 2009 "underwear bombing" attempt on a plane from Amsterdam to Detroit. An upgraded underwear bomb, also thought to be Al-Asiri's work, was foiled by the CIA in 2012.
The upgraded bomb, as well as others designed by al-Asiri, contained no metal parts, making security scans vulnerable to the explosives. It was mainly due to his expertise that the group's Yemeni branch - Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) - was deemed its most dangerous to US interests by American security chiefs.
The bomb expert reportedly recruited his own brother, Abdullah al-Asiri, to be a suicide bomber in a failed 2009 assassination attempt on Saudi Arabia's counter-terror chief, Prince Mohammed Bin Naif. Abdullah was killed by explosives that had been concealed in his rectum, while Naif was just slightly injured in the attack.
AQAP leader also killed?
Several air strikes primarily by US drones were carried out in central and southern Yemen over the weekend, leaving 55 terrorists dead on Sunday alone. The operation is considered the largest strike against Al Qaeda since 2012.
A desert air base in eastern Saudi Arabia, near the border with Yemen, is thought to have been the base of operations for the strikes.
Aside from al-Asiri, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi is also believed to have been killed.
Just last week footage was leaked of al-Wuhayshi holding an unprecedentedly large meeting with over 100 fighters and commanders of the terrorist group in Yemen.
While it is possible the meeting caught Western intelligence services unawares, some theories posit that intelligence agencies were more interested in listening in to the proceedings for valuable information than disrupting it.
The havoc wrought on Al Qaeda in Yemen just the following weekend after the meeting, in which al-Wuhayshi is thought to have been killed, would seem to support the latter theory.
While a senior security source said investigations were currently certifying the identities of those killed in the raids, the source confirmed that "leaders in the organization" had died.