New Terrorist Plot In The United States
A first suspicious package was found in the goods distribution center of East Midlands airport in the UK. The authorities came across the suspicious package as a result of information received by the security services, rather than following a random check, some British sources mentioned. According to Scotland Yard, the plane came from Yemen, the base of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and was heading to the United States, but it stopped over on East Midlands airport where its cargo was examined. Tests were conducted and several items were sent for a scientific review, police said.
The suspicious package, containing a modified printer cartridge covered in white powder as well as wires and a circuit board, was not a bomb, mentioned a source from the security services cited by BBC, but it posed a potential danger. Neverthelss, this led to the careful inspection of transport aircrafts from two U.S. airports – Newark, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennyslvania. Authorities have also verified a UPS truck in New York, but found nothing dangerous.
The package came from Sana’a, Yemen, and its destination was Chicago, Illinois, mentioned the source cited before. And, according to CNN, the device contained PETN, a highly explosive organic compound belonging to the same chemical family as nitroglycerin. And to make an idea about its power, with just six grams of PETN one could easily blow a hole in the fuselage of an aircraft.
PETN is also believed to be one of the main components of the bomb Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab intented to use in order to set off an explosion aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 as it approached Detroit, Michigan, on last December. He is thought to have been carrying 80 grams of PETN during that failed attack and is also suspected to be in connection with the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, commonly referred to as AQAP.
According to a source cited by CNN, the device found in Great Britain contained several times more PETN and it seems as the device was designed to be detonated by distance with a cell phone and a smaller amount of a second not-yet-identified explosive substance. “This size and the shape of the PCB (printed circuit board) are typical to a handset cell phone type device,” explained Olivier Clerc, hardware application engineering manager for a cell-phone-parts manufacturer.
The investigators found a second package on the Dubai airport in the United Arab Emirates and are now examining it. Both packages seem to have been sent by the same person in Yemen, through the UPS transportation company, and were to reach the United States, the destination being described as ”extremely sensitive”.
According to a spokesman for FedEx, the UAE authorities seized a suspicious package at a processing center of the courier company. “We blocked all supplies coming from Yemen. The company cooperates fully with the authorities in this problem,” said FedEx spokesman, Maury Lane.
In the last 24 hours security service officials were informed by an unidentified person from Yemen that the packages were intended for a synagogue in Chicago, Illinois, according to a CNN journalist. So the authorities advised all churches, synagogues and mosques in the Chicago area to increase their vigilance to detect any suspicious package.
In addition, the U.S. president Barack Obama has ordered the intelligence services and agencies in the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to take measures to ensure security of the country and to establish wheather the suspicious packages were a part of a terrorist plot. U.S. officials believe that behind this plot is the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, while Yemeni authorities opened an investigation about the suspicious packages sent from this country.
Meanwhile, U.S. authorities are searching for the terrorists who tried to mail two bombs. A team of several FBI, military and intelligence officers are stationed in Yemen and, relying on the records of the few international locations in the country, as well as on intelligence sources, are now trying to indetify the senders of the bomb packages. And on their list is the radical U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who now is in hiding in Yemen and who is believed to have planned the attack last Christmas, as well as Samir Khan, an American who declared himself a traitor and helps produce Al Qaeda propaganda and who is also believed to be hiding in Yemen. In fact, the Al Qaeda operating in the Arabian Peninsula has constantly grown as an important source of terrorist propaganda and recruiting. Authorities believe that about three hundred al Qaeda members are still operating in Yemen.11