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.