Suspected Saudi -Yemeni Bomb Maker Used His Brother in Suicide Attack on Saudi Prince

Who is Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the Saudi bomb-maker believed to be in Yemen with AQAP the last few years? And why is he a suspect in the cargo escapade?

Remember the story of the young Saudi who joined AQAP, repented and asked for a meeting with Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Saudi Deputy Interior Minister who handles the country's counter-terrorism matters? And how in August, 2009,right before Ramadam, a meeting was set up between the Prince and the young Abdullah Hassan Taleh al-Asiri, so that al-Asiri could surrender and enter Saudi Arabia's much acclaimed rehabilitation program. It was expected to be a major media event, and another chance for the Saudis to show off their program.

Al-Asiri was admitted to the palace, underwent a number of checks, and then met with the prince. An ied hidden on his body (believed then to have been hidden in his rectum) exploded, killing Asiri but not harming the Prince. He wasn't close enough. The IED was composed of PETN.

Al-Asiri's older brother is Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. [More...]

Also a Saudi who joined with AQAP, he has apparently been in Yemen for the past few years making bombs for al Qaeda. His specialty is IED's with PETN. It's believed he made the device that blew up his brother. It's also believed he made the failed IED device that Abdulmutallab wore in his underwear on the plane to Detroit Christmas Day.

At first the Saudis assumed the bomb had been hidden in the younger al-Asiri's rectum. Later, after the Abdulmutallab incident, they changed their minds and thought it was sewn into his underwear: Newsweek wrote:

Saudi officials initially thought the bomb had been secreted in the operative's anal cavity. But after investigating the matter more thoroughly, they concluded it had likely been sewn into his underwear, thereby allowing the operative to bypass security checks before his meeting with the prince. A main purpose of Nayef's briefing for Brennan was to alert U.S. officials to the use of the underwear technique.

U.S. officials now suspect that Nayef's attempted assassin and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian suspect aboard the Northwest flight, had the same bomb maker in Yemen, intelligence experts tell NEWSWEEK.

As for getting by security, that wasn't hard:

Al-Asiri was able to avoid some airport security because he had been flown in on the Prince's jet. He spent 30 hours at the Palace before being brought in to see the Prince. He was subjected to security searches, just not intrusive ones. Al-Asiri's bomb was assembled and installed an ready to go when he got to the Palace

Now that the cargo bombs have been discovered, it's unlikely AQAP will attempt the same method in the future. Stratford wrote at the time of the younger al-Nisiri suicide bomb:

As militants adopt new tactics, security measures are then implemented to counter those tactics. The security changes then cause the militants to change in response and the cycle begins again. These changes can include using different weapons, employing weapons in a new way or changing the type of targets selected.....Historically, al Qaeda and its jihadist progeny have proved to be very good at understanding the security paradigm and then developing tactics intended to exploit vulnerabilities in that paradigm in order to launch surprise attacks.

There's more links between AQAP and al-Asiri to suggest he's the cargo bombmaker. It's believed that he works at the direction of American born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who allegedly was involved in the Abdulmutallab Christmas day effort.

AQAP is a merger between the Saudi al Qaeda and Yemeni al Qaeda. Authorities say the top leaders of AQAP may now be Nasser al-Wahishi, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, Anwar al Awlaki and former Guantanamo detainee Saeed al-Shihri, (who was returned to Saudi for rehabilitation, and afterwards, bolted to Yemen where he and Nasser al-Wahishi announced the formation of AQAP in January, 2009.)

As for the PETN, it's also the substance that was in the shoes of shoebomber Richard Reid, who is now serving life at Supermax. (It was also claimed that traces of PETN residue were on Timothy McVeigh's clothes after the OKC bombing.) PETN is explosive, but it is also used as a vasodilator and heart medication,

al-Asiri, the alleged bomb-maker is thought to be in the Marib province of Yemen.

What this may mean for the U.S.: The Wall St Journal reports the Obama Administration is considering installing the CIA in Yemen to be in charge of elite forces.

The foiled mail bombing plot by suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen has added urgency to an Obama administration review of expanded military options that include putting elite U.S. hunter-killer teams that operate secretly in the country under Central Intelligence Agency authority.

Officials said support was growing both within the military and the administration for shifting more operational control to the CIA—a move that would allow the U.S. to strike suspected terrorist targets unilaterally with greater stealth and speed.

In other words, the U.S. is going to drop the CIA into Yemen to conduct covert killing missions. Sounds like it's Anwar al-Awlaki they really want. There's probably another bomb-maker ready and willing to assume the place of al-Asiri, but they're turning al-Awlaki into a figure that larger's than life -- who could replace him?

Maybe they'll do it on Thanksgiving so when we listen to Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" about the war and the draft, there will be a little extra oomph into the line, "Shrink I want to kill."

And I went up there, I said, "Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL."

And I started jumpin up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL," and he started jumpin up and down with me and we was both jumping up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL." And the sargent came over, pinned a medal on me,sent me down the hall, said, "You're our boy."

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  • Display: Sort:
    "You're our boy!" (none / 0) (#1)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 09:07:05 AM EST
    One should never doubt the fervor and dedication of these crazy people.  

    To truly sacrifice your brother is beyond even my ability to comprehend.  What next, their mother?

    With Brothers Like This (none / 0) (#2)
    by cal1942 on Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 02:03:15 PM EST
    This guy sacrifices his brother but HE mails it in.