One of Saudi Arabia’s most wanted believed linked to bomb plot

November 1, 2010

(CNN) — The man suspected to be at the center of the plot to send bombs from Yemen to the United States is a Saudi national who authorities believe has been living in Yemen for the past three years.

Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri is one of Saudi Arabia’s most wanted men, according to a list published by the government last year. The Saudi government described al-Asiri as an explosives and poison expert.

On Friday, authorities in the United Arab Emirates and Britain found two packages with explosives that were destined for synagogues in Chicago, Illinois.

U.S. investigators believe al Qaeda bomb maker al-Asiri, 28, is linked to the packages.

The explosive found in the packages, PETN, is the same as the material found in the December 2009 foiled underwear bomb attack in the United States. It’s a highly explosive organic compound that belongs to the same chemical family as nitroglycerin. Six grams of PETN are enough to blow a hole in the fuselage of an aircraft.

Al-Asiri was also suspected in the earlier attempted bombing case, where a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, is accused of trying to set off a bomb hidden in his underwear on a flight.

Al-Asiri’s brother, Abdullah, also appeared on the Saudi Arabia’s most wanted list. According to press accounts, it was Ibrahim al-Asiri who lured his brother to the jihadist movement.

In 2009, Abdullah al-Asiri died when he detonated a bomb on his body with the intent of assassinating Saudi Prince Muhammed Bin Naif, a top security official. The suicide bombing attempt failed to kill its target.

A few days after that attempt, the Watan newspaper in Saudi Arabia interviewed al-Asiri’s mother and sisters.

Their mother described Ibrahim and Abdullah as regular teenagers growing up.

“They were not religious boys at the time. They used to listen to music and had a wide variety of friends, friends not like the ones they had later when they became more religious,” she told Watan.

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