One of the two powerful bombs mailed from Yemen to Chicago-area synagogues traveled on two passenger planes within the Middle East,a Qatar Airways spokesman said Sunday. The US said the plot bears the hallmarks of al-Qaedas offshoot in Yemen and vowed to destroy the group.
The airline spokesman said a package containing explosives hidden in a printer cartridge arrived in Qatar Airways hub in Doha,Qatar on one of the carriers flights from the Yemeni capital Sana. It was then shipped on a separate Qatar Airways plane to Dubai in the UAE,where it was discovered by authorities early Friday. A second,similar package turned up in England on Friday.
The airline spokesman,disclosing the information on condition of anonymity,did not give any timeframe for the two flights in question the airline operates daily passenger flights from Yemen that could also carry courier packages.
In Washington,President Barack Obamas deputy national security adviser John Brennan said authorities have to presume there might be more potential mail bombs like the ones pulled from planes in England and the UAE.
US inspectors were heading to Yemen to monitor cargo security practices and pinpoint holes in the system. An internal government report,obtained by AP,said the team of six inspectors from the Transportation Security Administration will give Yemeni officials recommendations and training to improve cargo security.
Were trying to get a better handle on what else may be out there, Brennan told NBCs Meet the Press. Were trying to understand better what we may be facing.
He told CNNs State of the Union that it would be very imprudent … to presume that there are no others (packages) out there.
Brennan noted that because of the continuing threat,the worlds largest package delivery companies FedEx and UPS have suspended air freight from Yemen. Police in Yemen have arrested a young woman on suspicion of mailing the bombs and also detained her mother.
The explosives,addressed to Chicago-area synagogues,were pulled off airplanes in England and the UAE early Friday after intelligence officials were tipped off about them. That touched off a tense search for other devices.
British PM David Cameron said he believes the explosive device found in central England was intended to detonate on the plane,while British Home Secretary Theresa May said the bomb was powerful enough to take down the aircraft. A US official said the second device found in Dubai was thought to be similar in strength.
A US official and a British security consultant said the bomb that turned up in England nearly slipped past investigators even after they were tipped off. The near-miss shows it was sophisticated enough to escape notice.
After a six-hour sweep of cargo at the East Midlands airport in central England,Leicestershire police came up empty and removed the security perimeter they had set up,British aviation safety consultant Chris Yates said. But when officials in Dubai said they had discovered a bomb disguised as a computer printer cartridge,authorities urged the British to look again,a US official said,speaking on condition of anonymity. As a direct consequence,they put the cordon back up again and looked again and found the explosives, said Yates.
Al-Qaedas offshoot in Yemen is suspected of mailing the bombs. The group was behind a failed bombing on a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas that bore some of the same hallmarks as this plot.
In Yemen,police were searching for more suspects after arresting a female computer engineering student and her mother suspected of mailing the packages.