(SHABWA, Yemen) — A drone missile strike in Shabwa, Yemen, on Sunday killed a man named Fahd Mohammad Ahmed Al-Quso, the Yemeni government said in a statement.
Al-Quso, 37, from Yemen, was best known in the United States for heading terrorist operations in the USS Cole bombing, which killed 17 American sailors in 2000. More recently, Al-Quso had replaced Anwar al Awlaki as head of external operations for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
He was continuing the terrorist group’s plans to take down an international airliner with an explosive — one foiled in recent days, government officials say.
A previous attempt, with a bomb made by AQAP bomb maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, had failed on Christmas Day 2009, when the bomber, Umar Faruq Abdulmuttalab, failed to detonate the device that had been hidden in his underwear.
U.S. government sources tell ABC News that Al-Quso and Asiri continued to plan for a similar terrorist attack, using a small IED that could be hidden on a person, with the same goal of bringing down an international airline.
In April, their plot, based in Yemen, was detected by intelligence sources. American and other intelligence agencies were, sources said, on top of the plot from the beginning and closely monitoring it. Early last month White House counterterrorism czar John Brennan told President Obama about the plot.
The IED is in the hands of the FBI and is, according to sources, being thoroughly examined.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN