04 November 2010

Ibrahim Hassan al Asiri

Ibrahim Hassan al Asiri, assessed to be the lead explosives expert for AQAP.

In the wake of the recent interdiction of two potential "printer-bombs" on flights bound for the US, I wanted to briefly call attention to a post I wrote back in February about Ibrahim Hassan al Asiri - who I assessed at the time to be the top explosives expert for AQAP. Recent comments from high-level government and intelligence officials seem to confirm my original assessment that he is in fact serving in this role and likely has been since as early summer 2009 (when his brother Abdullah blew himself up in a failed attempt to kill Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Nayef). For an excellent updated biography of Ibrahim al Asiri, check out this story from the BBC.

The question I have to ask is why we haven't used our extensive HUMINT network (courtesy of the Saudis - who by the way tipped us on this latest planned attack) and SIGINT network to kill/capture this guy over the course of the last year? Although the interdiction of the explosives was a success story, if we had done our job more effectively in the first place, we could have potentially removed the key individual from the network who possessed enough knowledge to construct these devices in the first place.