Senior U.S. officials say that Wednesday’s terror warning about international air travel, first reported by NBC News, is the result of recent chatter about Ibrahim al-Asiri, the al Qaeda bombmaker from Yemen responsible for several high-profile bombing attempts against U.S. targets.
On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security warned airlines of new information related to the possibility of bombs or bomb material hidden in shoes, like the device that shoe bomber Richard Reid used to try to take down a plane over the Atlantic in December 2001.
Officials would not provide details on the chatter, but many in the U.S. intelligence community believe al-Asiri is the world’s most dangerous terrorist. He’s been identified as the designer of the “underwear bomb” that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab used to try take down a Northwest Airlines jet over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, and the 2010 cargo plane plot, in which explosives were pound packed into printers that were en route via cargo plane from Yemen to Chicago. He is believed to be the principal bombmaker for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror group’s Yemen affiliate.
First published February 20 2014, 4:09 PM
Robert Windrem is an investigative reporter/producer with NBC News. His specialty is international security, on-camera commentary on international security for MSNBC and writer on international security for NBCNews.com
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Winner of 45 national journalism awards, including an Emmy as well as Dupont-Columbia, National Press Club, Sigma Delta Chi, three Edward R. Murrow and eight National Headliners Club awards. He has also been nominated for an Emmy 19 times.
Windrem produced the first report on U.S. television on Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda in January 1997; produced the first inside look of CIA Headquarters on U.S. television in February 1994; arranged and produced exclusive interviews with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in New York in September 2006, and in Tehran in July 2008. He also produced extensive reports on "Nightly News" regarding nuclear proliferation in Israel, South Africa, Iraq and Iran as well as reports on the Mexican drug wars; al Qaeda; US drone attacks in Pakistan, the Boston Marathon bombings, the Washington, D.C., snipers; campaign finance scandals, defense procurement abuse, and intelligence technology, among many others.
He contributed to NBC News documentaries on the war on terrorism, Hurricane Katrina and nuclear strategy.
Windrem co-wrote with William E. Burrows, "Critical Mass: the Dangerous Race for Superweapons in a Fragmenting World", Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994.
He has appeared more than 300 times as an expert on national security issues on MSNBC, NBC News and CNBC as well as CBC in Canada, BBC in the UK, Channel 2 in Israel and ABC in Australia. Most recently he served as a consultant on an Israeli TV documentary on Arnon Milchan, the Hollywood producer and arms dealer.
He is a graduate of Seton Hall University with a degree in communications arts. He also pursued a graduate degree in American Studies at Seton Hall.