10.29.10

U.S. Searches for More Suspicious Cargo

President Obama confirmed reports about a terror plot involving cargo planes, calling it a "credible terrorist threat" against two Jewish centers in Chicago and revealing that intercepted packages contained explosives.

Yemeni officials have detained a female medical student in her 20s who is suspected of sending explosive to the U.S. on cargo planes. The hunt is also on for Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, a 28-year-old bomb mastermind working with al Qaeda's Yemen branch. Asiri is linked to both this plot and last year's failed Christmas Day underwear bomber attack. British officials believe the bomb intercepted in the U.K. was meant to explode on the plane—and was viable to do so. Janet Napolitano, the U.S. homeland security secretary, linked the plot to al Qaeda, telling ABC news Saturday morning that the intercepted packages contained PETN, one of the "hallmarks" of the group.

Other facts we know:

• Explosive devices were found on cargo planes in Dubai and at the East Midlands airport in the United Kingdom.

• The explosive cargo originated in Yemen and was intended for two Jewish places of worship in Chicago.

Louise Roug: Politics and Terror Collide• Early reports said that the packages were sent by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; however, addressing the nation, President Obama stopped short of blaming the terrorist organization, saying only, "We know that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies."

• A U.S. commercial airline flight from the United Arab Emirates was escorted by fighter jets to JFK. It was believed to be carrying cargo from Yemen.

• The explosive device on the airplane in East Midlands involved wires and a computer chip attached to a toner cartridge. See a photo here.

• Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who is on the House Homeland Security Committee, said the seized packages contained the same chemical explosive as the one found in the bomb sewn into the underwear of the Nigerian man who tried to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day.

• Despite the increased role of Yemenis in recent terror plots, U.S. officials stressed that Yemen has been cooperating with terrorism investigations.

• Planes were also searched on Friday morning at Newark and Philadelphia airports, but were later cleared for further travel.

• British Home Secretary Theresa May has said that the explosive found in East Midlands was viable and " could have exploded."

Watch Obama's Statement to the Press

Video screenshot