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Yemeni official: Al Qaeda bomb maker not killed

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Al Qaeda's top bomb maker in Yemen did not die in a drone strike on a convoy, a top Yemeni official said Sunday, a report that dashed the hopes of U.S. officials who thought the attack might have killed a trio of top al Qaeda personnel.

The U.S. drone strike Friday killed U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and an American propagandist, Samir Khan, who published a slick English-language web magazine that spouted al Qaeda's anti-Western ideology.

U.S. intelligence officials had said it appeared that bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri was among the dead. However, on Sunday the Yemeni official released a list of two others whose bodies had been identified and noted that al-Asiri was not one of them. The Yemeni official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

The Saudi-born al-Asiri, 29, who is of Pakistani descent, was tied to the so-called underwear bomb that was used in an attempt to bring down a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas Day in 2009. A Nigerian man has been charged in that attack. Al-Asiri was also believed to have been behind an intercepted pair of explosives-laden printers that were mailed from Yemen to the U.S. in 2010.

There was no immediate official word from the U.S. regarding the identities of the bodies.

Al-Asiri has been described as a critical component of al Qaeda's activities in Yemen and his death would be a significant blow to the organization.

Even before officials determined al-Asiri had not died in the strike, anti-terrorism experts noted that al Qaeda remained a powerful threat in Yemen. Months of political turmoil in the Mideast nation has helped the group grow stronger.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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