BREAKING: President to Address Nation 4:15 PM RE Packages Found on Planes

Posted on October 29, 2010

The President just addressed the nation and explained what had transpired relative to suspicious packages found on cargo planes that had originated in Yemen.  One plane had stopped in Britain and the other in Dubai. The packages were  addressed to a Chicago Synagogue.

A tip led to their discovery. They contained explosives (this fact was confirmed by the President in his speech)  and mechanisms used to trip explosive. The most likely scenario according to CNN was that al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula were seeing if they could ship explosives.  Cargo planes would be to them just delivery devices for explosives to be detonated elsewhere in more populated areas.

Additionally, planes were searched in Philadelphia and Chicago – two destinations for the President this week for campaign stops.

These events show we have pretty good intelligence; not great screening. We should not be lulled into a feeling of security because so many recent attempts at bombing have flubbed.  [from CNN on air]

Bomb scare as ‘sinister’ packages found on planes bound for US

Suspicious devices found in East Midlands and Dubai as US officials check others on suspected ‘dry runs’

Forensic officer removes package from UPS container A forensic officer removes a package from a UPS container at East Midlands airport. Photograph: Darren Staples/Reuters 

    A major security alert is under way in the UK, US and Middle East tonight after “sinister” packages were discovered on board two cargo planes after they landed in the Midlands and Dubai. 

    The plane that landed in the UK had begun its journey in Dubai and was bound for the US.

    American authorities were carrying out checks at several locations, including airports, as security officials sought to determine whether al-Qaida-inspired terrorists had found new vulnerabilty in western security or whether the scare was a false alarm. As the investigation continued, the US government announced it would enact new aviation security measures.

    The plane that landed in the UK was operated by the parcel company UPS. It had taken off from Yemen, and was due to fly to two locations in the US. It made a routine stop at East Midlands airport at 3.30am on Friday morning and, sources say, intelligence reports led it to be subjected to extra searches.

    A first search by police and military bomb experts failed to find anything suspicious, but a decision to declare the all-clear was reversed.

    Further searches led to a “sinister” package being discovered, which was sent away for scientific examination, as were several other items causing concern.

    An aviation industry source said a large box aroused the suspicion of employees carrying out screening checks in the UPS facility at East Midlands. Initial checks were inconclusive and the UPS flight, which had come from Yemen, was allowed to fly on to the US without the box on board.

    However, a further check is understood to have revealed that a Hewlett Packard printer in the box contained a hidden suspicious device that gave cause for greater concern. The source said the device was “cleverly disguised” and appeared to have been linked to a mobile phone. The device was then split in two and sent for detailed investigation by the authorities.

    Scotland Yard said: “Early today, Friday 29 October, an American-registered cargo plane arrived at East Midlands airport from the Yemen en route to Chicago via Philadelphia.

    “The plane stopped at East Midlands airport as part of a routine stopover. Cargo removed from the plane was examined. Further tests were carried out. Following this a number of items have been sent for additional scientific examination.”

    No explosives are reported to have been found.

    The White House said Barack Obama has been informed of the security operation and potential terror threat.

    A spokesman said: “Intelligence and law enforcement agencies discovered potential suspicious packages on two planes in transit to the United States.

    “Based on close co-operation among US government agencies and with our foreign allies and partners, authorities were able to identify and examine two suspicious packages, one in London and one in Dubai.

    “Both of these packages originated from Yemen. As a result of security precautions triggered by this threat, the additional measures were taken regarding the flights at Newark Liberty and Philadelphia International airports.”

    Yemen has been of increasing concern to Western counter-terrorism officials, who fear its use as a base for al-Qaida inspired terrorists.

    American officials said that intelligence agencies have over recent months tracked three other packages out of Yemen for delivery to the US that appeared to be trial runs for the smuggling of a bomb on board a cargo plane. They said that the grounding of planes from the US and UK to Dubai for further searches was in part based on that intelligence.

    Their suspicion has been that a group called Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula – which was responsible for the failed attempt to blow up a passenger aircraft over Detroit on Christmas Day last year using a Nigerian suicide bomber – was planning an attack on cargo planes.

    American law enforcement officials warned Jewish groups in Chicago and New York that they may be a target for dangerous packages.

    Other cargo handlers were also alerted by the FBI. FedEx announced that it was suspending all deliveries from Yemen.

    Aviation has long been a target of al-Qaida terrorists, most recently when a bomber plot believed by the US to have been hatched in Yemen, led to an attempt using a Nigerian suicide bomber to explode a device aboard a passenger flight over Detroit on Christmas day.