Plotters may have targeted plane

2010-11-01 14:11
Washington - Powerful explosives addressed to Chicago synagogues may have been intended to destroy the planes they were sent on, security officials acknowledged as they tried to figure out how to respond to the al-Qaeda-linked plot.

Disaster was narrowly averted, officials said on Sunday. One device almost slipped through Britain and another seized in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates was unwittingly flown on two passenger jets.

Investigators were still piecing together the potency and construction of two bombs they believed were designed by the top explosives expert working for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based faction thought to be behind the plot.

Yemeni authorities hunted suspects linked to the group, but released a female computer engineering student arrested on Saturday, saying someone else had posed as her in signing the shipping documents.

Authorities admitted how close the terrorists came to getting their bombs through, and a senior US official said investigators were still trying to figure out if other devices remained at large.

Other packages

Deputy national security adviser John Brennan told CNN's State of the Union, that "it would be very imprudent ... to presume that there are no others (packages) out there".

Authorities are also "looking at the potential that they would have been detonated en route to those synagogues aboard the aircraft as well as at the destinations," Brennan said on CBS' Face the Nation.

After masterminding the attempt last December to blow up a US-bound airliner with explosives hidden in a passenger's underwear, the Yemen terror group appears to have nearly pulled off an audacious plot capitalising on weak points in the world's aviation security and cargo systems.

The US has been trying to kill or capture its leaders, and the American response to the thwarted attacks was still being developed on Sunday.

Brennan headed a meeting of national security and intelligence officials at the White House to determine the US response in concert with a Yemeni government that has been reluctant to give the Americans free rein.

About 50 elite US military experts are in Yemen training its counterterrorism forces and Washington is giving $150m in military assistance this year for helicopters, planes and other equipment.

Frantic search for packages

A Yemeni official said on Sunday his government is aiming for a "surgical" response with the help of the US against the plotters.

New details have emerged about events leading up to the near-disaster. US officials said a call from Saudi intelligence about packages containing explosives led to a frantic search in Dubai and England.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said German Federal Police were tipped off to a suspicious package on Friday.

The package was flown from Yemen to Cologne-Bonn airport, where UPS has its hub. From there it was transferred to a plane bound for Britain's East Midlands airport in central England.

Bomb travelled on two planes

After the cargo plane landed at East Midlands, an initial search came up empty. But after consulting with officials in Dubai, British police found the lethal explosive PETN, or pentaerythritol tetranitrate.

What happened in Dubai was even more troubling: The bomb had travelled on two commercial passenger planes, a Qatar Airways spokesman said.

The package with the second bomb arrived in Qatar Airways' hub in Doha, Qatar, on one of the carrier's flights from the Yemeni capital Sana'a. It was then shipped on a separate Qatar Airways plane to Dubai, where it was discovered by authorities.

US intelligence officials believe the suspected bomb-maker is a 28-year-old Saudi named Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, thought to be in Yemen.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  us  |  yemen  |  security  |  us terror threat
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Lood leads heavy Bok assault
Hosts England crash out of RWC
Cotter takes loss on the chin
'Basic' Bok plan worked well
Traffic Alerts

Spontaneity is the order of the day. Let go and have some fun. Try not to set too many set plans and expectations and enjoy more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.