After hiding bombs in underwear, printer cartridges and even people, al-Qaida master bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri has found a new Trojan horse: bombs inside pets.
U.S. officials say that al-Asiri’s latest schemes involve bombs surgically implanted in terrorists and bombs hidden in pets that are carried onto aircraft, ABC News reports. Al-Asiri’s designs also include bombs in cameras and external hard drives that explode when put into a laptop computer.
“[He's] very innovative in trying to find some way to get a bomb onto an airplane that will evade detection from airport screeners,” said Seth Jones, former senior adviser to the U.S. Special Operations Command.
Al-Asiri has also worked with AQAP, al-Qaida on the Arabian peninsula, leader Anwar al-Awlaki to preserve bombs and maximize their effect.
“In other words he’s not just building the material himself, he’s interested in working with the operatives so that they can actually detonate it and kill as many Americans as possible,” said Jones.
The U.S. has already taken action against al-Asiri and al-Qaida by expanding its drone campaign in Yemen and giving the U.S. military and CIA more freedom to operate in the Arabian Peninsula. Al-Asiri has survived at least one drone strike.
Recently, an al-Asiri bomb plot was foiled by a double agent working for the U.S. and its allies, but al-Asiri still remains a threat and U.S. officials say there are several other plots targeting U.S. airliners that are in the planning stages, if not already further along.
“Taking out al-Asiri would take out the most competent bomb maker in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” Jones said. “But as we’ve seen in Pakistan with senior al-Qaeda leaders, they can replace these individuals. It may not be with somebody as technically savvy for the moment, but just taking somebody out does not mean that the problem goes away. They have other bomb experts, so they will try again.”
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