Friday, October 29, 2010

Possible AQAP Plot - 'Credible Terrorist Threat' Seen in U.S.-bound Packages

Via -

Two explosives-laden packages and other suspicious parcels aboard cargo jets, all originating from Yemen, 'underscore the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism,' President Obama says.

President Obama declared Friday that authorities had uncovered a "credible terrorist threat" against the United States after the overseas discovery of explosives in at least two U.S.-bound packages aboard cargo jets.

Discovery of the packages, addressed to Jewish organizations in Chicago, triggered a worldwide alert amid fears that Al Qaeda was attempting to carry out terrorist attacks. Authorities searched cargo planes and trucks in Philadelphia, New York and Newark, N.J., and were examining other packages addressed to the U.S. from Yemen, where the two containing explosives originated. More suspicious packages were discovered on UPS planes at the Philadelphia and Newark airports, the carrier said.

The events "underscore the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism," Obama said at a briefing Friday afternoon. He did not explicitly blame Al Qaeda but, referring to a Yemen-based branch of the terrorist network, said, "We also know that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies."


Intelligence officials have been concerned for months that Al Qaeda was changing tactics to focus less on spectacular attacks and more on small-scale strikes in the United States to sow fear and disrupt commerce, said a U.S. intelligence official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly.

All the packages in question were sent from Yemen to U.S. destinations. Bomb technicians searched numerous locations Friday, including UPS cargo hangars at Newark Liberty International Airport, the official said, who added that a UPS truck in Brooklyn also was searched.

The package examined in Britain contained a device that looked like a toner cartridge for a printer but had been altered with wires and a circuit board and had white powder coming out of it, CNN reported.

On its website, UPS said it was "working closely with authorities" after suspicious packages were found on its planes at the Philadelphia and Newark airports.

FedEx confirmed that local authorities, in cooperation with the FBI, had confiscated a suspicious package at its facility in the emirate of Dubai that originated in Yemen.

"As an additional safety measure, FedEx has embargoed all shipments originating from Yemen," said Maury Lane, spokesman for FedEx, the world's largest cargo airline.


A U.S. official said it is likely that the material used was PETN -- a highly explosive organic compound belonging to the same chemical family as nitroglycerin -- but said testing is ongoing to reach a definitive conclusion.

PETN was allegedly one of the components of the bomb concealed by Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, who is accused of trying to set off an explosion aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit, Michigan, on December 25. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is also believed to be behind that botched attack.

He [presidential counterterrorism advisor John Brennan] later issued a statement thanking Saudi Arabia, saying the United States is "grateful" for the country's help in identifying the threat within the two packages.

A source with firsthand knowledge of the tip told CNN that the Saudi Arabian government gave the United States tracking numbers of the two packages, allowing for quick tracing to the United Kingdom and Dubai.

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