The two packages intercepted overseas on their way to Jewish organizations in the U.S. contained a massive amount of explosives that could have triggered powerful blasts if detonated.
U.S. officials believe that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, often referred to as AQAP, is behind the foiled terror plot. President Obama confirmed that the two packages that were stopped in the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates both originated from Yemen, which is a stronghold for the AQAP. In a press briefing the President stated that the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues to “plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens and our friends”.
The Dubai police stated tat the explosives in the package located there were professionally loaded and connected via an electronic circuit to a mobile phone chip that was hidden inside a printer. The set up carried many features similar to previous attacks that al Qaeda carried out.
The package intercepted at the UK’s East Midlands Airport contained a manipulated toner cartridge that had white powder on it and wires and a circuit board. The material was later found to be PETN which is highly explosive and belongs to the same chemical family as nitroglycerin. Just six grams is enough PETN to blow a hole in the fuselage of an aircraft.
PETN was allegedly a component of the bomb concealed by Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab. He was accused of attempting to set of a bomb on Northwest Airlines flight 253 as it approached Detroit on Christmas Day. According to reports AbdulMutallab allegedly carried 80 grams of PETN on him that day. It is believed AQAP was behind his foiled mission.
The devices discovered Friday contained multiple times more PETN than that and appeared to be designed for detonation from a cell phone. Both packages were headed towards Jewish houses of worship in Chicago.
The discovery of the packages led to increased searches of cargo planes and trucks in various U.S. cities. Any packages shipped from Yemen were being tracked and authorities had stopped and searched plans in Philadelphia and Newark out of an “abundance of caution”.
Jewish houses of worship were warned to be leery of any packages from unknown senders or that they were not expecting.