By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON, Oct 10 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday confirmed that the top al Qaeda bomb-maker, believed to be the mastermind behind a failed bombing of a U.S.-bound airliner in 2009, has been killed.
In a White House statement, Trump said he was confirming that Ibrahim al-Asiri was killed two years ago in a United States counter-terrorism operation in Yemen.
U.S. officials said last year that they were confident al-Asiri had been killed, but others had said at the time that the evidence was not conclusive.
Washington had long sought al-Asiri, a militant with al Qaeda’s Yemen branch, who was regarded as one of the world’s most feared bomb makers because of his ability to create hard-to-detect bombs, including some implanted in suicide bombers.
Al-Asiri is believed to have masterminded the attempted Christmas Day 2009, bombing of a U.S.-bound passenger jet. A Nigerian man is serving multiple life sentences in prison for trying to set off the bomb in his underwear.
Trump’s announcement confirmed that Asiri built the bomb used in the failed underwear bomb attack as well as the printer cartridge bomb used in a plot disrupted in 2010.
Additional reporting by Makini Brice and Susan Heavey; Editing
by Hugh Lawson and Susan Heavey