Although Ibrahim al-Asiri was not the target of the assault that officials called “massive and unprecedented,” an unidentified Yemeni senior official said al-Asiri was believed to have been among those killed.
The raid was conducted against Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, regarded as al-Qaida’s most dangerous affiliate, in large part because of al-Asiri’s creations. Those include a device designed to be inserted into the rectum of a suicide bomber and containing 100 grams of the explosive PETN (pentaerythritol tetranitrate), a white powder difficult to detect.
It was the means by which al-Asiri’s brother died while attempting to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s head of counterterrorism in 2009.
A U.S. official said no American troops participated in ground combat in the assault, but U.S. forces flew Yemeni forces to a remote and mountainous location in Yemen. Drones of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency are suspected to have targeted the al-Qaida forces, weapons locations and a training camp.