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Explosive found in Dubai, part of U.S. terror probe

Posted October 29, 2010

— Authorities in Dubai intercepted an explosive device bound for a Chicago-area Jewish institution aboard a cargo jet, officials disclosed Friday, triggering a worldwide alert and fears that al-Qaida was attempting to carry out fresh terror attacks.

A second package — like the first, shipped from Yemen — was discovered aboard a plane in England. It, too, was addressed to a Jewish organization in the Chicago area, although there was no immediate confirmation about its contents.

Several other cargo planes at airports along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States also were searched, and officials said no explosives were found. An Emirates Airlines passenger jet carrying cargo from Yemen was escorted from the Canadian border to New York City by two military fighter jets, U.S. officials said. They said it was a precautionary action.

President Barack Obama said Friday afternoon that authorities had uncovered a "credible terrorist threat" against the United States following the overseas discovery of the packages.

The events "underscore the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism," the president said. The packages both originated in Yemen, but Obama did not explicitly assign blame to al-Qaida, which is active in the Arab nation and long has made clear its goal of attacking the United States.

The events unfolded four days before national elections in which discussion of terrorism has played almost no role.

"The president directed U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the Department of Homeland Security to take steps to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and to determine whether these threats are a part of any additional terrorist plotting," the White House said in a statement.

An FBI spokesman in Chicago, Ross Rice, said both suspicious packages had been sent from the same address in Yemen.

U.S. officials said they were increasingly confident that the packages were part of a plot by Yemen's al-Qaida branch, the same group responsible for an attempted bombing of a U.S.-bound airliner last Christmas. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the ongoing investigation.

U.S. officials told the AP on Friday evening that the explosives found in the Yemen packages were the same used in the Christmas attack.

Other officials, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the package found in England contained a printer toner cartridge with wires and powder. It was discovered aboard a plane in East Midlands, north of London.

One official said intelligence personnel had been monitoring a suspected plot for days. The packages in England and Dubai were discovered late Thursday after a foreign intelligence service picked up information related to Yemen and passed it on to the U.S., this official said.

Confirmation that the package discovered in Dubai contained explosives came from an official United Arab Emirates security source who likewise spoke only on condition of anonymity.

U.S. intelligence officials warned last month that terrorists hoped to mail chemical and biological materials as part of an attack on America and other Western countries using the mail. The alert came in a Sept. 23 bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by The Associated Press.

In the hours following the discoveries, Yemeni officials said they had launched a terrorism investigation, and Scotland Yard said its investigators were testing a number of additional items seized from the plane in East Midlands.

U.S. authorities conducted searches of aircraft in Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., and New York City. Local officials said all of the suspicious items and planes that were searched had been given the "all clear." That was before the plane escorted by fighter jets landed in New York.

"As a precaution, DHS has taken a number of steps to enhance security," the Homeland Security Department said in a statement. "Some of these security measures will be visible while others will not."

One was — spectacularly so. Two U.S. fighter jets were dispatched to escort the Emirates Airlines flight, which landed at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport without incident.

Since the failed Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner, Yemen has been a focus for U.S. counterterrorism officials. Before that attack, the U.S. regarded al-Qaida's branch in Yemen as primarily a threat in the region, not to the United States.

The Yemen branch known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has since become a leading source of terrorist propaganda and recruiting. Authorities believe about 300 al-Qaida members or cells operate in Yemen.

The Yemeni government has stepped up counterterrorism operations, with help from the U.S. military and intelligence officials. Mohammed Shayba, general-director of the state airline's cargo department, said the government is conducting an investigation.

"Those in charge are in constant meetings and they are investigating and taking the issue seriously," he told The Associated Press.

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  • paginasecunda Oct 29, 2010

    "Conservatives will be here Tuesday to clean this mess up. Yep."

    That's good then because I'm a firm believer that those who make the mess should clean it up.

  • moon2orchids2 Oct 29, 2010

    Conservatives will be here Tuesday to clean this mess up. Yep.

  • Just the facts mam Oct 29, 2010

    I remember George Bush use to find terrorist threats around election time - I was wondering if Obama would pull that stunt too (I guess this answers my question)...

  • paginasecunda Oct 29, 2010

    "What genius decided to have fighters escort a potential bomb into NYC? I can't believe there wasn't an alternative airport away from any major population they could have landed at to check this thing out."

    I was wondering the same thing. If it was worth the effort of scrambling jets, they could have very easily diverted to a more rural area. That being said, I suspect that we are all about to start panicking again. I for one am not going to let the terrorists frighten me - they will have to do a lot better than that before it becomes a serious concern in my mind.

  • paginasecunda Oct 29, 2010

    "I thought Obama was going to be our savior and keep us safe from terrorists forever? Oh wait, he's been busy making the talk show rounds."

    Yeah, he isn't keeping us at all safe. It's not like the explosives were intercepted or something. The US government stopping the attacks is in no way related to the US government trying to keep us safe. *sarcasm*

  • JustRidingAround Oct 29, 2010

    What genius decided to have fighters escort a potential bomb into NYC? I can't believe there wasn't an alternative airport away from any major population they could have landed at to check this thing out.

  • working for deadbeats Oct 29, 2010

    I thought Obama was going to be our savior and keep us safe from terrorists forever? Oh wait, he's been busy making the talk show rounds.

  • gandalla Oct 29, 2010

    gandalla...are you saying this is the Obama October surprise. With terrorist and fruit of the looms ka-booms and everything. Will AG. Holder come out and call'em terrorist. Do you think the potus might call on the military to drop a bomb on a terrorist itty bitty head.

    Not to worry with a dem. it's all about the show not about the substance
    I am not who you think I am

    that is exactlly what I'm saying dont be suprised when the American Al-Qaedia Master mind of the ft hood shooting ends up dead or captured over the weekend.

  • sarahsoandso Oct 29, 2010

    meBNme: It's called The Passover. Ever hear of it?

  • gandalla Oct 29, 2010

    It is completely erroneous to think this is only a democrat trick...Sadamm was found in a hole in the fall, september 11 happened in the fall..so by the logic put up here it would follow that the repubs do the same thing. Step out of the boondocks folks.
    algernon821

    Actually the Reps are too stupid to know how to play this hand. A terrorist act that is actually carried out would hurt the party in power(9/11=republicans). While a plot that was discovered and prevented will be a positive for the party in power(such as this case).

    Saddam was captured on Dec 15 btw so even though I believe that still is fall it happened way after November and also in a non election year, so I dont think that repubs... o wait I forgot they are really stupid they proablly did hold out on the Saddam capture thinking it would help them in the Nov 04 election.

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