US ‘knew’ of al-Qaeda parcel plot – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

US ‘knew’ of al-Qaeda parcel plot
Authorities say they were aware of al-Qaeda’s plan to use international cargo systems several weeks before foiled plot.
Last Modified: 02 Nov 2010 06:04 GMT

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US authorities have said that they knew of al-Qaeda’s plans to use international cargo systems several weeks before last week’s foiled parcel bomb plot, Al Jazeera has learned.

The authorities are reported to have intercepted packages shipped by the group in September.

“Several weeks ago, we identified packages in transit that appeared to have a connection to al-Qaeda,” a US official told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

“We looked at them very closely, and determined they did not contain explosives. We obviously took this earlier event into account in dealing with last week’s cargo threat.”

The parcel bombs, addressed to synagogues in Chicago, were discovered at a UK airport and in a cargo terminal in Dubai on Friday.

Qatar Airways said the Dubai parcel had been transported on two of its passenger planes from Sanaa via Doha.

Theresa May, Britain’s interior minister, said the package intercepted in the UK was powerful enough to bring down the aircraft, while other officials said the device was so sophisticated that it nearly slipped past investigators despite a tip-off.

Highly explosive

The parcel, which was hidden inside a computer printer with a circuit board and mobile phone SIM card attached, was said to contain pentaerythritol trinitrate (PETN), a highly potent explosive, which is difficult to detect in security screenings.

Al Jazeera’s Rob Reynolds, reporting from Los Angeles, said that this recent development makes things a lot more interesting but also a lot more murky.

In Depth
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Author: Chilleh

A frisky penguin.

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