The suspected bombmaker behind last years Christmas Day attack,Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri,is also the prime suspect in the mail bomb plot,several US officials said. Al-Asiri is a key operative in al-Qaedas offshoot in Yemen,Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. He also helped make another PETN device for a failed suicide attempt against a Saudi Arabias counterterrorism chief last year.
Hanan al-Samawi,the 22-year-old arrested on Saturday along with her mother for mailing the bombs,is a student at the University of Sana,said Yemeni rights activist Abdel-Rahman Barman. According to her university colleagues,al-Samawi is not known to be involved in any political activity or to have ties to any Islamic groups,Barman said. He said she had not been allowed access to a lawyer.
The US was already on the lookout for a mail bomb plot after learning terrorists in Yemen were interested in “exploring an operation involving cargo planes,” a US counterterrorism official said. US authorities then acted quickly after receiving a tip that suspicious packages may be en route to the US specifically Chicago the official said,speaking on condition of anonymity.