That makes Asiri a crucial target for the Saudis, the Yemeni government, and the United States, which has grown increasingly alarmed at evidence that a self-contained and competent offshoot of the original Al Qaeda is now flourishing in Yemen's lawless tribal regions.
Asiri appears to be the "getting things done guy" and if so, his arrest or assassination is probably now at the top of the US's target list, above even Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. While Mr. Awlaki, charged by Yemen on Tuesday with inciting violence against foreigners, is also a target, the fiery preacher is more of an ideologue than an operative.
Asiri's family members say he vanished from Saudi Arabia about three years ago. His father told the Saudi press that he didn't know what had become of his son until he was named to the Saudi government's most wanted list in February 2009. Apparently, he'd fled to Yemen, where many Saudi Al Qaeda operatives have been chased by the Saudi security services since 9/11, largely quelling a wave of Al Qaeda inspired attacks that had many international analysts worried about the stability of the Kingdom in the first half of the last decade.
In August of 2009, Asiri demonstrated what Saudi Arabia had been so afraid of: He dispatched his younger brother as a suicide bomber to assassinate Saudi counterterrorism chief Prince Muhammad bin Nayef. Abdullah al-Asiri contacted the Saudi government and said he wanted to renounce violence and rejoin society. Allowed to come home, he was invited to meet with Mr. Nayef, and blew himself up with a bomb that Saudi authorities said was concealed in a body cavity. The blast killed the younger Asiri but left Nayef with only minor injuries.