A 2017 US counterterrorism operation in Yemen killed Ibrahim al Asiri, a “senior al-Qa’ida bomb maker and terrorist coordinator”, US President Donald Trump announced on October 10th 2019. This statement confirmed several 2018 reports that al Asiri had likely been killed in a US drone strike in Marib governorate during the second half of 2017.
A July 2018 United Nations report indicated that, according to “some Member States”, al Asiri “may have been killed” in the second half of 2017. Yemeni officials and a tribal leader subsequently confirmed to the Associated Press that al Asiri had been killed by a US drone strike: “a Yemeni security official said that al-Asiri is dead; a tribal leader and an al-Qaida-linked source also said that he was killed in a U.S. drone strike in the eastern Yemeni governorate of Marib”, according to the report.
According to the tribal leader, al Asiri was killed alongside “two or four” of his associates, while standing next to his car. “He added that al-Asiri’s wife, who hails from the well-known al-Awaleq tribe in the southern governorate of Shabwa, was briefly held months ago by the UAE-backed forces and later released”.
While multiple officials initially told CNN that they were “weighing evidence” that al Asiri had been killed, senior US officials later told CBS, Reuters and Fox News that they were “confident” of his death. An official told Reuters in August 2018, however, that “the usual fallout from a senior militant being killed, like a eulogy from Yemen’s al Qaeda branch, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), had not appeared”. Reuters further reported at the time that “separate U.S. intelligence officials said they do not consider the available evidence conclusive”. His death was confirmed by the 2019 White House statement.
Al Asiri is believed to have been behind the “underwear bomb” attempt to down an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, which failed, and other foiled aviation-related terror attacks. “Given al Asiri’s past role in plots against aviation, this would represent a serious blow to operational capability,” the United Nations report stated. Other commentators, however, including Gregory D. Johnsen writing in The Atlantic, cast doubt on the level of threat posed by al Asiri.
Given the uncertainty regarding the exact date and location of the strike, Airwars has created this event to cover the six month period in which the strike allegedly occurred. It is possible that al Asiri was killed by one of the other alleged US strikes in Marib tracked elsewhere by Airwars in this period. However, we have been unable to definitively tie his death to any other known events.
The local time of the incident is unknown.
Sources (17) [ collapse]
from sources (6) [ collapse]
Geolocation notes (1) [ collapse]
Reports of the incident mention the Ma’rib (مريب) governorate, for which the generic coordinates are: 15.469871, 45.323441. Due to limited satellite imagery and information available to Airwars, we were unable to verify the location further.
United States Armed Forces Assessment:
Original strike reports
This will confirm for the first time that Ibrahim al-Asiri, a senior al-Qa’ida bomb maker and terrorist coordinator, was killed two years ago in a United States counterterrorism operation in Yemen. Al-Asiri built explosive devices that were used in the failed Christmas Day 2009 underwear bomb attack and the disrupted printer cartridge bomb plot in 2010. He also built an explosive device intended to be used against a passenger aircraft in 2012, and the device used in the attempted assassination of the former Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Al-Asiri’s death significantly handicapped al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula. The United States will continue to hunt down terrorists like al-Asiri until they no longer pose a threat to our great Nation.