US: Cargo terror plot bore 'hallmarks of Al-Qaeda'
US officials said Saturday that all signs of a foiled plot to put explosives on US-bound planes point to the Al-Qaeda terror network.
The plans, disrupted by a coordinated intelligence effort across three continents, bore "the hallmarks of Al-Qaeda," US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Saturday, adding the explosives-laden packages were undergoing further analysis.
She said the incident, in which intelligence agents detected two explosives-filled parcels from Yemen bound for synagogues in the United States, highlighted the continued threat from the terror network and underscored the importance of vigilance throughout the US national security system.
"We know that the perpetrators of this -- and it has the hallmarks of Al-Qaeda, the AQAP -- they are constantly trying things to test our system," Napolitano told CNN, referring to the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Asked about the likelihood that AQAP was behind the suspected plot, another US official told AFP: "All signs point to AQAP at this point."
The comments backed up those by police in the Gulf emirate of Dubai, where officials said Saturday that a US-bound parcel bomb intercepted in Dubai was laced with the powerful PETN explosive and bore signs of the Al-Qaeda terror network.
The bomb was described by Dubai police as a complex and professional device made of PETN and lead azide, a highly explosive combination that can cause great damage. It came in a cardboard box from Yemen which also contained English-language books and souvenirs.
British officials also said a device taken off a US-bound cargo plane at Britain's East Midlands airport could have exploded in flight and brought the aircraft down.
Both packages were addressed to Chicago synagogues.
US President Barack Obama said Friday the packages represented a "credible terrorist threat," and that "an initial examination of those packages has determined that they do apparently contain explosive material."
Napolitano stressed that further analysis was being done on the explosive packages in order to draw more comprehensive conclusions.
"All of that needs to be done by trained scientists and they are doing that right now," Napolitano told Fox News Channel.
"However, the security system has no one silver bullet," she noted. "You have to have multiple layers."
She praised Saudi Arabia, which tipped off US authorities to the suspicious packages, for "good information sharing" and said the United States was cooperating with Britain and Gulf countries to learn more about the incident.
Obama spoke by phone Saturday with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to thank them for their "close cooperation" in helping disrupt the plot, the White House said.
It added that a top Obama security advisor, John Brennan, phoned Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh for the second time in two days on Saturday, reiterating a US call for "close" counterterrorism cooperation.
© 2010 AFP