U.S. officials confirmed that the man considered the most dangerous terrorist in the world after Osama bin Laden and a top al-Qaeda bomb-maker was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2017.
Ibrahim al-Asiri, a 37-year-old from Saudi Arabia who is responsible for creating a host of bombs — including the underwear bomb intended to take down a flight from Detroit to Amsterdam on Christmas in 2009 — escaped U.S. strikes in the past, despite a $5 million bounty for his capture since 2014, according to reports by Fox News.
Al-Asiri and several associates were standing beside his car when a drone struck and killed him, a tribal leader and a source linked to the deadliest affiliate of al-Qaeda in Yemen told The Associated Press on Friday. Al-Qaeda did not memorialize al-Asiri’s death as they normally would on militant sites, and instead is focusing on identifying potential spies who could have leaked his whereabouts and contributed to his death, Fox News reported.
The top al-Qaeda bomb-maker consistently developed more sophisticated bombs to get past airport security, including explosive devices that could fit into devices such as laptops, cell phones and ink cartridges. His efforts resulted in increased TSA measures to prohibit electronics on some flights to the U.S. and intelligence officials believe he might have been developing other such explosives at the time of his death.
“A good chunk of what you have to take out of your bag and what has to be screened is because of Asiri and his capabilities of putting explosives in very difficult to find places,” former CIA deputy director Michael Morell told CBS News.