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DNA test: Remains from airstrike in Yemen not those of al Qaeda bomb-maker

By Paul Cruickshank, Mohammed Jamjoom and Nic Robertson, CN
updated 10:51 AM EDT, Mon April 28, 2014
Strikes targeted al Qaeda fighters in Yemen.
Strikes targeted al Qaeda fighters in Yemen.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • DNA tests are conducted to determine who was killed in an offensive against AQAP
  • The offensive included attacks by Yemeni commandos and suspected U.S. drone strikes
  • Saudi officials have a close match for bomb-maker's DNA via remains of his brother
  • A bomb inside the brother's body killed him but failed to hit his intended target

(CNN) -- The remains of a Saudi national killed in airstrikes in Yemen earlier this month are not those of a wanted al Qaeda bomb-maker, according to multiple sources in Saudi Arabia who were briefed on the matter.

DNA tests conducted by Saudi officials showed that the remains were not those of Ibrahim al-Asiri, they said.

Saudi officials had obtained a close match to al-Asiri's DNA via remains of his brother, who died in a failed suicide bomb attack. The brother had carried a bomb inside his body, which killed him upon detonation but failed to hit his intended target, Saudi Arabia's security chief.

The sources said that the results were also negative for a DNA match to Nasser al-Wuhayshi, believed to be head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Pennisula. Al-Wuhayshi has been referred to as the "crown prince" of the global terror organization al Qaeda.

Source: Plot against US embassy spoiled
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U.S. aids Yemeni counterterror mission
'Massive' attack on al Qaeda in Yemen

Crackdown

The laboratory tests were conducted to determine whether a broad offensive against AQAP, which is considered al Qaeda's most dangerous wing, had eliminated the two men.

The crackdown began over a week ago, resulting in the deaths of more than 60 suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen from April 19 t0 21, Yemeni officials have said.

Operations have included attacks by Yemeni commandos and suspected U.S. drone strikes, a high-level Yemeni government official said.

U.S. special operations troops helped during that offensive, in part by flying Yemeni forces to a remote, mountainous spot in southern Yemen, though no Americans took part in combat, a U.S. official said.

Terror threats

One reason Yemen and the United States partnered in the offensive: Threats from al Qaeda operatives in Yemen increased in recent weeks.

U.S. authorities blame the Yemen-based branch of al Qaeda for a string of plots against Americans, including the failed attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound jetliner with a bomb concealed in an operative's underwear in 2009.

It is also suspected of being behind another plot involving printer bombs on U.S.-bound cargo jets.

READ: Al-Zawahiri: Followers should 'capture Westerners ... as much as they can'

READ: Threats from al Qaeda in Yemen rose in recent weeks, U.S. officials say

READ: Source: 'Massive' attack targets al Qaeda in Yemen

CNN's Richard Griffiths contributed to this report

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