Al-Qaeda in Yemen claims parcel bomb plot: SITE
The Yemen branch of Al-Qaeda Friday claimed responsibility for a plot to send parcel bombs to the United States and for the September downing of a UPS cargo plane, the monitoring website SITE said.
The Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) group posted the message on "jihadist" web forums, and called for more explosive parcels to "enlarge the circle of its application to include civilian aircraft in the West as well as cargo aircraft," SITE said.
Last week, two packages addressed to synagogues in Chicago containing the hard-to-detect explosive PETN hidden in printer ink cartridges were uncovered in Dubai and Britain's East Midlands Airport, sparking a global scare.
Washington said it believed the parcel bombs, found to have originated in Yeman, were the work of Saudi militant Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, believed to be a senior member of AQAP.
French officials said Thursday that British anti-terror police had disarmed one of the bombs just 17 minutes before it was due to detonate.
AQAP also claimed it had planted a bomb on jumbo jet belonging to US delivery giant UPS near Dubai airport of September 9, and that authorities had kept the cause of the crash quiet.
"We downed the plane belonging to the American UPS company, but because the media of the enemy did not attribute responsibility for this work to us we kept quiet about the operation until the time came that we hit again," it said.
Weeks after the UPS crash, the group placed two additional bombs on flights operated by UPS and FedEx, according to AQAP quoted by SITE.
"We wonder: Why did the enemy not show what happened to the UPS plane that was downed?" the message said.
"Is it because the enemy was not able to detect the cause of the crash, or that the Obama administration wanted to hide the incident?
"We say to (US President Barack) Obama: We struck three blows to your aircraft within one year. Allah willing, we will continue to strike blows against American interests and the interest of America's allies."
But the latest statement conflicts with an assessment by the UAE civil aviation authority on the case of the crash of the UPS aircraft.
Experts from the agency said last week they had eliminated the possibility of an onboard explosion in the September 9 crash.
AQAP, an affiliate of Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda netowrk, is thought to be behind a number of recent attacks, including last year's Christmas Day "underpants bomb" scare, in which a Nigerian student smuggled a PETN-based device onto a US-bound flight.
The latest claim comes as European and US aviation security experts met to examine whether holes in air cargo surveillance systems need to be plugged in the wake of bomb parcel plots in Yemen and Greece.
The mail bomb plots raised new questions about the safety of air cargo, as Western authorities have mainly focused on dangers to passenger jets following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Germany, France, Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands unilaterally decided to ban all air freight originating from Yemen after the rigged printer ink cartridges were uncovered in Dubai and Britain. Germany extended its ban to passenger flights from Yemen.
© 2010 AFP