Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bomb Plot Is Said to Contain ‘Hallmarks of Al Qaeda’

Via -

A day after two packages containing explosives, shipped from Yemen and addressed to synagogues in Chicago, were intercepted in Britain and Dubai, setting off a broad terrorism scare, Janet Napolitano, the secretary of Homeland Security, said that the plot “has the hallmarks of Al Qaeda.”


“I think we would agree with that, that it does contain all the hallmarks of Al Qaeda and in particular Al Qaeda A.P.,” she said, referring to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Ms. Napolitano and the police in Dubai on Saturday confirmed that the bomb discovered in its country in cargo from Yemen bound for the United States contained the explosive PETN, the same chemical explosive in the bomb sewn into the underwear of the Nigerian man who tried to blow up an airliner over Detroit last Dec. 25. That plot, too, was hatched in Yemen, a country that is regarded as one of the most significant fronts in the battle with extremists.

The discovery on Friday of the explosives packed in toner cartridges for computer printers, based on a tip from Saudi intelligence officials, began an urgent hunt for other suspicious packages in the United States, Yemen and other countries.

According to The Associated Press, the Dubai police said that tests showed the printer cartridge also contained lead azide, an explosive compound that can be used in bomb detonators. British forensic officials on Saturday were examining the device found in their country, Reuters reported.


The white powder explosives discovered in Dubai were in the printer’s ink cartridge and were rigged to an electric circuit.

“The parcel was prepared in a professional way where a closed electrical circuit was connected to a mobile phone SIM card hidden inside the printer,” the Dubai police said, according to Reuters.

The statements released by the Dubai police followed information given by American officials on Friday. Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, had said that the packages seized in Britain and Dubai contained PETN, also known as pentaerythritol, a highly explosive substance.

Ms. Harman, who was briefed by John S. Pistole, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, also said that both packages contained computer printer cartridges filled with the explosive, with one using a cellphone as a detonator and the other a timer.


British officials and security experts said they regarded the use of cargo planes to deliver explosives as a sinister, but predictable, new front in the war against terrorism. By using the freight aircraft as a new “delivery system,” they said, the militants appeared to have moved beyond reliance on suicide bombers boarding passenger planes, the method used in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and a succession of attempted attacks.

“This is a new dynamic,” said Sajjan M. Gohel, director for International Security for the London-based Asia-Pacific Foundation, an independent security and intelligence think tank. “Whenever security gaps are plugged, and the threat minimized, terrorist groups will find alternative means of striking their targets. If they can’t go for passenger aircraft, they go for cargo planes; and if they can’t go after cargo planes, they’ll go after another link in the chain.”

President Obama, in a brief national statement on Friday, praised the work of intelligence and counterterrorism officials in foiling the plot.


Lack of Cargo Screening Requirements Opens Door to Terrorists

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