2009 Christmas Day underwear bomb maker killed, White House confirms

Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press
This picture provided by J.P. Karas shows Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on the runway after arriving at Detroit Metropolitan Airport from Amsterdam on Friday, Dec. 25, 2009.

DETROIT – The man who built the infamous underwear bomb that a confessed terrorist wore aboard a Detroit-bound airplane on Christmas Day 2009 has been declared dead by the White House.

In a statement released Thursday, the White House said:

"This will confirm for the first time that Ibrahim al-Asiri, a senior al-Qa’ida bomb maker and terrorist coordinator, was killed two years ago in a United States counterterrorism operation in Yemen. "

According to the White House,  Al-Asiri built the explosive devices that 23-year-old Nigerian college student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tucked into his underwear while on a Detroit-bound airplane, hoping it would explode while over U.S. soil. The plot was foiled, however, and Abdulmutallab is now serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison in Colorado after pleading guilty to multiple terrorism charges.

This undated file photo released Oct. 31, 2010, by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Interior purports to show Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri.

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The man who masterminded the underwear bomb also built the disrupted printer cartridge bomb plot in 2010,  an explosive device intended to be used against a passenger aircraft in 2012, and the device used in the attempted assassination of the former crown prince of Saudi Arabia, according to the White House.

"Al-Asiri's death significantly handicapped al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula. The United States will continue to hunt down terrorists like al-Asiri until they no longer pose a threat to our great Nation," the White House said.

The Transportation Security Administration's full body scanners were implemented to spot threats such as the underwear bomb designed by Al-Asiri.

Contributing: Jay Cannon, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ibrahim al-Asiri, 2009 Christmas Day underwear bomb maker, killed