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Friday, October 29, 2010

Suspicious Cargo Triggers Terror Alarms


Authorities on three continents thwarted multiple terrorist attacks aimed at the United States Friday, seizing two explosive packages addressed to Chicago-area synagogues and packed aboard cargo jets from Yemen. Parts of the plot might remain undetected, President Barack Obama's counterterror chief warned.

Obama called the coordinated attacks a "credible terrorist threat" amid worldwide fears that al-Qaida was launching a major new campaign of assaults.

"The United States is not assuming that the attacks were disrupted and is remaining vigilant," Obama adviser John Brennan said at the White House.


The packages, mailed via UPS and FedEx, were addressed to two places of Jewish worship in Chicago, the president said.

Obama, speaking four days before the midterm elections, did not specify any new security measures that would be taken or say that the nation's terrorist alert level had been raised. But he described the threat as serious, and pointed once again to Yemen as the source, saying his top terrorism adviser, John Brennan, had been in touch with that country's president.

The two packages were intercepted at different locations, one on a UPS plane at the East Midlands airport near Nottingham, England, and the other at a FedEx facility in Dubai. Officials provided no detail on the kind of explosives found.

U.S. counterterrorism officials believe the foiled attack may have been orchestrated by the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen, which has been behind a series of recent attempts to strike the United States.


The wide-scale alert spread to the United States on Friday morning, when officials isolated two cargo planes at airports in Newark and Philadelphia and searched them for packages originating in Yemen, and New York police searched a delivery truck in Brooklyn. None of the shipments reaching the United States from Yemen were found to contain explosives.


A source told CBS News that the packages in the U.K. and Dubai contained a syringe, powder and cell phone components. (Scroll down to see a photo of one of the cartridges.)

A Joint Terrorism Task Force source told CBS News that investigators were looking for between 10-20 packages shipped out of the UPS office in Sanna, Yemen during the same time frame.

Fox News:

Given the origin of the packages, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula "is at the top of the list" of suspects, a U.S. official told Fox News.

"Since two of the suspicious packages that were intercepted were addressed to religious institutions in Chicago, all churches, synagogues and mosques in the Chicago area should be vigilant for any unsolicited or unexpected packages, especially those originating from overseas locations," Chicago FBI spokesman Ross Rice said.

More at Memeorandum.