In the post-Sept. 11 world, intelligence operations are discussed much more freely. This was evident once again with the foiled bomb plot in Yemen. Despite the sensitivity of the case, the details have come out quickly.
For the top brass of companies such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, talk of cyberweapons and cyberwar could be abstract. But at a classified security briefing in spring 2010, it suddenly became quite real. "We can turn your computer into a brick," government officials reportedly told the startled executives.
Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri is the man U.S. authorities believe is behind the latest bomb plot from al-Qaida's arm in Yemen. A former chemistry major dropout, Asiri was radicalized in a Saudi prison after he was arrested for trying to get to Iraq to fight the United States. He has been with al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula for six years but really made a name for himself among U.S. intelligence officials until 2009, when they discovered his fingerprint on the underwear bomb on Northwest Airlines Flight 253. Dina Temple-Raston talks to Audie Cornish about the bomb-maker.
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