Al-Qaida bomb master killed

Yemeni officials say Ibrahim al-Asiri died in US drone strike

CAIRO — Al-Qaida’s chief bomb maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who was behind the 2009 Christmas Day plot to down an airliner over Detroit and other foiled aviation-related terror attacks, was killed in a U.S. drone strike, Yemeni officials and a tribal leader said Friday.

The killing of al-Asiri deals a heavy blow to the group’s capabilities in striking western targets and piles pressure on the group that already lost some of its top cadres over the past years in similar drone strikes.

A Yemeni security official said that al-Asiri is dead; a tribal leader and an al-Qaida-linked source also said that he was killed in a U.S. drone strike in the eastern Yemeni governorate of Marib.

The tribal leader said that al-Asiri was struck, along with two or four of his associates, as he stood beside his car. He added that al-Asiri’s wife, who hails from the well-known al-Awaleq tribe in the southern governorate of Shabwa, was briefly held months ago by the UAE-backed forces and later released.

Al-Qaida itself has remained silent about its top bomb maker. Instead of the typical “eulogies” on militant websites, the Yemeni source said the group is trying to hunt down suspected “spies” who might have tipped off the U.S. on his whereabouts leading up to the strike.

The security official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to brief reporters. The tribal leader and al-Qaida-linked source requested anonymity fearing for their safety.