Intelligence Report: Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, terror suspect behind latest plot, once targeted Chicago

May 7, 2012 4:16:04 PM PDT
Federal authorities confirm they interrupted an al-Qaida plan to destroy a U.S.-bound jetliner to be carried out near the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death.

In this Intelligence Report: The terror suspect behind the latest threat is the same man who targeted Chicago in a similar plot.

Like a cat with nine lives, al-Qaida's most ruthless bomb maker has survived assassination attempts and outlived numerous reports of his own death. Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri is thought to be the terrorist brains behind this latest threat, a new and improved passenger jet bomb, just as he allegedly supervised the printer cartridge bombs that were addressed to Chicago synagogues a year and a half ago.

Al-Asiri's best known handiwork, according to the FBI, was hidden in a suicide bomber's underwear on a Christmas Day flight to Detroit in 2009. A year later, authorities say, al-Asiri packed explosives inside Hewlett-Packard computer printers and addressed them to Chicago synagogues. They were intended to detonate in the skies over Chicago. The threat put synagogues in Chicago on alert and Chicago Jewish organizations on edge. The FBI has a fingerprint and other evidence linking al-Asiri to at least one of the explosive devices.

The latest plot was to be carried out on an unnamed airline headed to an unnamed U.S. city by an apparently unknown assailant.

As the I-Team reported last month, heading into the busiest air travel season, radical Islamists are plotting a new threat to the nation's aviation, according to recordings and videos in a newly produced al-Qaida playbook.

Al-Qaida Airlines was the name of the terror organization's latest playbook. An online video offered explicit instructions to would-be jihadists on how to conjure up chloroform, a chemical solvent that can be used as a knock-out drug.

The first evidence that al-Qaida had a new motivational magazine came last week on an Internet forum for radical Islamists. The shadowy figure behind the new publication is considered by law enforcement to be an expert in explosives. He once hosted a live chat room conversation for wannabe bombers.

Federal agents say they were closely monitoring the foreign plot, that the public was never in danger, and that the FBI has seized one of the explosive devices that al-Qaida intended to have smuggled onboard a U.S.-bound jet.

If they determine that the non-metallic bomb could get through airport security screening, then the question becomes, How many other devices are out there and how can they be stopped?

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