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May 10, 2012

Al-Qaida bomb expert poses major risk

Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee Peter King (R-NY). (UPI/Kevin Dietsch)

SANAA, Yemen (UPI) -- Al-Qaida explosives expert Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, suspected of building the bomb in the latest foiled bomb plot, is extremely dangerous, officials said.

U.S. security officials say he has tried to attack the United States three times in the past three years and is believed to have built the underwear bomb used in a failed 2009 Christmas Day attempt to take down a Northwest Airlines flight with 290 people flying to Detroit from Amsterdam.

The 30-year-old from an area of Saudi Arabia near the Yemeni border is known for having dispatched his brother on a suicide mission to kill Saudi Arabia's top counterterrorism official, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Asiri, who studied chemistry in college, was declared a wanted terrorist by U.S. officials last year.

U.S. Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called Asiri "an evil genius," The New York Times said. "He is constantly expanding, he is constantly adjusting."

Mustafa Alani, director of security and defense studies at the Gulf Research Center in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, said Asiri has made Yemen's al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula branch a significant threat, the Times reported.

"He is highly determined and fully committed to attack America," Alani was quoted as saying by the Times. "For al-Qaida, an attack inside the U.S. is worth 11 attacks outside. It has become their obsession."

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