Friday, July 19, 2013

U.S. Hunts Devious Al Qaeda Bomb Maker's Proteges


U.S. Hunts Devious Al Qaeda Bomb Maker's Proteges


By BRIAN ROSS (@brianross) and JAMES GORDON MEEK (@meekwire) ASPEN

July 19, 2013


Al Qaeda's most diabolical bomb maker, who has targeted the American

homeland at least four times, has trained other terrorists who are now being

hunted down, the top U.S. aviation security official said today.


Transportation Security Administrator John Pistole told ABC News during a

discussion at a counterterrorism conference that accused Saudi terrorist

Ibrahim al-Asiri had shared his expertise at building almost undetectable

bombs with a number of al Qaeda operatives.


"There is intel that he has unfortunately trained others," Pistole said at

the annual Aspen Security Forum.


Asiri, 31, created two versions of an improvised explosive device hidden in

men's underwear, with which the Yemen-based al Qaeda affiliate al Qaeda in

the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) almost succeeded in blowing up a passenger jet

over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. A "new and improved" version was

obtained by spy agencies last year.


Pistole said that "there is a lot of effort to identify" those to whom Asiri

has taught his terror tradecraft, particularly after similar liquid

explosives bombs were discovered aboard U.S.-bound cargo jets in 2010.


However, "talent is not always transferable," a U.S. counterterrorism

official told ABC News recently, meaning that Asiri's skills as a bomb

innovator are considered unique.


Pistole also for the first time detailed the sophisticated "Underwear Bomb

II," which a double-agent stole from AQAP in 2012 after the group dispatched

him as a suicide bomber aboard an aircraft. ABC News obtained a Department

of Homeland Security illustration of the newer bomb. Pistole called the U.S.

ally-led operation an "intelligence coup," because it enabled western

counterterrorism services to thwart a serious threat from a bomb almost

impossible to detect by magnetometers and advanced imaging machines at



"It was a new type of explosive we had never seen," which used two redundant

initiators filled with liquid explosives to detonate a larger liquid

explosive charge in men's briefs, Pistole said.


"He encased this explosive in caulk -- kitchen caulk," he explained, to

conceal the scent of he explosives and "evade bomb sniffing dogs."


It "possibly" could have been detected by TSA, but that would be less likely

in overseas airports, where security screening isn't always as precise as it

is inside the U.S., Pistole added.



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