Ibrahim al-Asiri

Saudi-born Ibrahim al-Asiri was the chief bomb-maker for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).“Department of State’s Terrorist Designation of Ibrahim Assan Tali Al-Asiri,” U.S. Department of State, March 24, 2011, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/03/158911.htm. Before joining AQAP, Asiri belonged to an al-Qaeda-affiliated cell in Saudi Arabia, where he plotted a series of bombings on domestic oil facilities.“Department of State’s Terrorist Designation of Ibrahim Assan Tali Al-Asiri,” U.S. Department of State, March 24, 2011, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/03/158911.htm;
Gregory D. Johnsen, “A Profile of AQAP’s Upper Echelon,” Combating Terrorism Center, July 24, 2012, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/a-profile-of-aqaps-upper-echelon.
Asiri traveled to Yemen in 2007 to join AQAP and became notorious for designing a score of bomb attacks aimed at targets in the United States. These include the underwear bomb plots of 2009—carried out by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab—and again in 2012, as well as the cargo plane bomb plot in 2010. Asiri was also implicated in his brother Abdullah al-Asiri’s 2009 assassination attempt of Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Nayif in Jeddah.“Department of State’s Terrorist Designation of Ibrahim Assan Tali Al-Asiri,” U.S. Department of State, March 24, 2011, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/03/158911.htm. Asiri died in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in the second half of 2017.David Martin, “U.S. officials confident drone strike killed chief al Qaeda bomb maker,” CBS News, August 20, 2018, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ibrahim-al-asiri-chief-al-qaeda-bomb-maker-killed-in-u-s-drone-strike/; Samuel Chamberlain, “Al Qaeda bomb maker killed in Yemen drone strike last year, US official confirms,” Fox News, August 20, 2018, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/08/20/al-qaeda-bomb-maker-killed-in-us-drone-strike-in-yemen-official-says.html.

According to his sister, Asiri grew devout and reclusive following the death of one of his brothers in a car crash in 2000. “It was after that that they [Asiri and his younger brother Abdullah] started swapping video tapes and cassettes on the mujaheddin [holy warriors],” she told Saudi Arabian media.Sudarsan Raghavan, Peter Finn, “Al-Qaeda bombmaker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri has tried to attack the U.S. three times, officials say,” Washington Post, May 8, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/al-qaeda-bomb-maker-ibrahim-hassan-al-asiri-has-tried-to-attack-the-us-three-times-officials-say/2012/05/08/gIQA16pkBU_story.html?utm_term=.a069c4edd08d. At the time of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Asiri was a chemistry student at Riyadh’s King Saud University. Soon after the invasion, Asiri reportedly attempted to cross the border in order to join al-Qaeda in Iraq, but was arrested by Saudi authorities and handed a nine-month prison sentence.Sudarsan Raghavan, Peter Finn, “Al-Qaeda bombmaker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri has tried to attack the U.S. three times, officials say,” Washington Post, May 8, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/al-qaeda-bomb-maker-ibrahim-hassan-al-asiri-has-tried-to-attack-the-us-three-times-officials-say/2012/05/08/gIQA16pkBU_story.html?utm_term=.a069c4edd08d.

Following his release, Asiri and his brother Abdullah formed a militant cell linked to Saudi Arabia’s al-Qaeda wing and plotted attacks against the Kingdom’s security forces, oil facilities, and royal family. In 2007, Asiri and his brother joined AQAP in Yemen, where he would go on to become the terror group’s most notorious bomb-maker.Sudarsan Raghavan, Peter Finn, “Al-Qaeda bombmaker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri has tried to attack the U.S. three times, officials say,” Washington Post, May 8, 2012, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/al-qaeda-bomb-maker-ibrahim-hassan-al-asiri-has-tried-to-attack-the-us-three-times-officials-say/2012/05/08/gIQA16pkBU_story.html?utm_term=.a069c4edd08d;
Gregory D. Johnsen, “A Profile of AQAP’s Upper Echelon,” Combating Terrorism Center, July 24, 2012, https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/a-profile-of-aqaps-upper-echelon.

In March 2011, the U.S. Department of State designated Asiri as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. In 2014, the U.S. Department of State Rewards for Justice Program offered $5 million for information leading to the location of Asiri and other AQAP leaders, including the group’s leader Qasim al-Raymi. Asiri was also wanted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Interpol had released a notice warning the public about the dangers he posed.“Ibrahim Hassan Tali al-Asiri,” U.S. Department of State, accessed December 27, 2016, https://www.rewardsforjustice.net/english/ibrahim_al_asiri.html;
Bill Roggio, “AQAP confirms military commander killed in US airstrike, Long War Journal, February 5, 2016, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/02/aqap-confirms-military-commander-killed-in-us-airstrike.php.
Asiri was featured in an audio recording released by AQAP on January 11, 2016, in which he vowed to continue fighting the United States, stating, “By God, we [AQAP] will not continue to let you go as long as there is a pulsing vein in our body.”“Bomb-making terrorist threatens, US, Saudi Arabia over executions,” Fox News, January 11, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/01/11/al-qaida-threatens-saudis-us-over-execution-militants.html.

On August 17, 2018, Yemeni security officials and a tribal leader told the Associated Press that Asiri had died in a U.S. drone strike in Marib, Yemen, during the second half of 2017.Maggie Michael and Ahmed al-Haj, “Al-Qaida bomb master killed in U.S. strike, officials say,” Associated Press, August 17, 2018, https://apnews.com/7699a2a003a44466a480a0969c017810. According to the reports, the drone targeted Asiri’s car, killing him and two to four of his associates. On August 20, U.S. officials confirmed Asiri’s death in the 2017 strike.David Martin, “U.S. officials confident drone strike killed chief al Qaeda bomb maker,” CBS News, August 20, 2018, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ibrahim-al-asiri-chief-al-qaeda-bomb-maker-killed-in-u-s-drone-strike/; Samuel Chamberlain, “Al Qaeda bomb maker killed in Yemen drone strike last year, US official confirms,” Fox News, August 20, 2018, http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/08/20/al-qaeda-bomb-maker-killed-in-us-drone-strike-in-yemen-official-says.html. A U.N. Security Council report called Asiri’s death a “serious blow to [AQAP’s] operational capability.”“Letter dated 16 July 2018 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities addressed to the President of the Security Council,” U.N. Security Council, July 27, 2018, http://undocs.org/S/2018/705.

 
International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL)

INTERPOL designated Ibrahim Hassan Tali Assiri with an Orange Notice. “Narrative Summaries of Reasons for Listing: QI.A.291.11. Ibrahim Hassan Tali al-Asiri,” March 24, 2011, http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/NSQI29111E.shtml/Interpol.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia designated Ibrahim Hassan Tali Assiri as Wanted for Participating in Exremist Acts Abroad (#1/83 wanted) on February 3, 2009. “Interior Ministry Issues List of Extremists Wanted for Extradition,” Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, February 3, 2009, http://www.saudiembassy.net/latest_news/news02030902.aspx.

United Nations

The United Nations designated Ibrahim Hassan Tali Assiri as an individual associated with the Al-Qaida on March 24, 2011. “Al-Qaida Sanctions List,” United Nations, last modified September 9, 2014, http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/AQList.htm.

United States

The U.S. Department of State designated Ibrahim Hassan Tali al-Asiri a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (under Executive Order 13224) on March 24, 2011. Blocks all property in U.S. or under possession of control of U.S.persons; bans any property related transactions by U.S. persons or within U.S., including giving or receiving contributions to the entity.“Department of State’s Terrorist Designation of Ibrahim Assan Tali Al-Asiri,” U.S. Department of State, March 24, 2011, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2011/03/158911.htm.

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