Gregory Johnsen, a former Fulbright Fellow in Yemen, is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Johnsen has written for a variety of publications on Yemen including, among others, Foreign Policy, The American Interest, The Independent, The Boston Globe, and The National. He is the co-founder of Waq al-Waq: Islam and Insurgency in Yemen Blog. In 2009, he was a member of the USAID's conflict assessment team for Yemen.
With everyone talking about Ibrahim Asiri and a number of reporters asking what I knew about him, I thought it would be useful if I put together a little biographic sketch of him. (This is not meant to be complete, just a rough sketch.)
Ibrahim Hassan Tala Asiri is a 29-year-old Saudi citizen, who is on the kingdom's most-wanted list. He is widely believe to be the individual responsible for the bombs used in the assassination attempt on Muhammad bin Nayyif, the one sewn into the underwear of Umar Faruq for his Christmas Day attempt, as well as those mailed to the US last week.
His younger brother, Abdullah, was the suicide bomber in the attack on Muhammad bin Nayyif.
According to this article from al-Sharq al-Awsat, he was born in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The story of his childhood is picked up by Sada al-Malahim, in the "martyr biography" of his brother that appeared in issue 11. Ibrahim and Abdullah grew up in a very pious home, one that didn't approve of or watch "foolish tv sitcoms" or listen to music. Instead the boys of the family occupied themselves with memorizing the Qur'an. Their father, Hassan, was a soldier in the Saudi military.
This article from al-Hayat suggests that Ibrahim studied chemistry at King Saud University, but never completed his degree.
Both Ibrahim and Abdullah wanted to travel to Iraq to fight the US, but were involved in different cells attempting to smuggle themselves out of the kingdom. Ibrahim's cell was busted, and he was thrown into prison. After he was released he again formed a cell - this time Abdullah was in his cell - but it too was broken up. The Saudis killed a number of those involved, but Ibrahim escaped, and together with Abdullah left Riyadh on June 23, 2006.
The group made their way south, eventually reaching their family's home region of Asir. Here the biography gives an interesting inside story of what AQAP operatives from Saudi Arabia have to deal with in their attempts to cross into Yemen. (Also recommended: Robert Worth's recent article on the border.) Ibrahim recounts that they only had a small pistol and spent days dodging Saudi security patrols, before they finally crossed the border into Yemen on August 1, 2006.
Ibrahim Asiri goes by the kunya Abu Salih and seems to have spent some time talking with, if not studying under, Muhammad al-Rashad, a late Saudi member of AQAP, who fought in Iraq.
These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.
We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.
Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.
For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.
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