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US drone did not kill bomb maker

Al Qaida's top bomb maker in Yemen did not die in a drone strike on a convoy, a senior Yemeni official has said.

The news dashed US hopes that the attack might have killed a trio of al Qaida leaders.

The US drone strike on Friday killed US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and an American propagandist, Samir Khan, who published a slick English-language web magazine that spouted al Qaida's anti-Western ideology.

US intelligence officials had said it appeared that bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri was among the dead, but the Yemeni official later released a list of two others whose bodies had been identified and noted that al-Asiri was not one of them.

The Yemeni official spoke anonymously to discuss intelligence matters.

Saudi-born al-Asiri, 29, who is of Pakistani descent, was tied to the so-called underwear bomb that was used in an attempt to bring down a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas Day 2009.

A Nigerian man has been charged with that attack. Al-Asiri was also believed to have been behind an intercepted pair of explosives-laden printers that were posted from Yemen to the US in 2010.

There was no immediate official word from the US regarding the identities of the bodies.

Al-Asiri has been described as a critical component of al Qaida's activities in Yemen and his death would be a significant blow to the organisation.

Even before officials determined al-Asiri had not died in the strike, anti-terrorism experts noted that al Qaida remained a powerful threat in Yemen. Months of political turmoil in the Middle East nation has helped the group grow stronger.


From Belfast Telegraph