Report: Yemen Hunts Down Mail Bomb Suspect

This undated photo released by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010, is said by them to show Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. AP

This undated photo released by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010, is said by them to show Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. (AP)

(CBS/AP) Yemen is aggressively hunting down a Saudi bomb maker accused of masterminding a thwarted bomb plot involving U.S.-bound packages, Reuters reported.

Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, considered a key figure in al Qaeda's most active franchise, is now the chief suspect behind the mail bombs sent from Yemen and bound for the United States, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

According to Reuters, Yemen launched a military operation in the provinces of Maarib and Shabwa to capture al-Asiri as well as the U.S.-born radical preacher Anwar al-Awlaki. Together with a al-Awlaki=6978200>, Yemeni militants, and former Saudi inmates of Guantanamo, al-Asiri makes up the leadership of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

On Tuesday, Yemeni prosecutors charged al-Awlaki in absentia with plotting to kill foreigners.

"Asiri is believed to be hiding and moving with senior al Qaeda elements such as (Yemen al Qaeda leader) Nasser al-Wahayshi. Security intelligence are still tracking them down to exactly identify their whereabouts," a local official told Reuters.

Maarib and Shabwa are known for their impenetrable deserts, Reuters reports.

The threat last week came in the form of explosive devices hidden in the toner cartridges of computer printers. Investigators have centered on al-Asiri, who had previously designed a bomb that failed to go off on a crowded U.S.-bound passenger jetliner last Christmas.

More Mail Bomb Coverage:

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U.S. Boosts Mail, Cargo Scrutiny amid Bomb Probe

U.S. Official: Yemen Cargo Bomb Threat Ongoing

Yemeni Mail Bomb Suspect Released on Bail

Officials: Investigators Nearly Missed 1 Bomb

Mail Bomb Found in Dubai Was on Passenger Planes

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com

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