US uncovered parcel bomb 'dry run' back in September: report
US officials intercepted parcels from Yemen bound for Chicago in mid-September which they believe were a "dry run" to test timings for the package bomb plot foiled last week, a report said Monday.
The shipments contained household goods including books, religious literature, and a computer disk, but no explosives, said the ABC report, which anonymously quoted a senior US official.
The packages were shipped by "someone with ties to Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," the official said, referring to the Yemen-based offshoot of Al-Qaeda which Britain and the US have accused of being behind the plot.
"The dry run is always important to Al-Qaeda," Dick Clarke, a former White House counter-terrorism official, told ABC.
"In this case they wanted to follow the packages using the tracking system to know exactly when they got to a point, how long the timer had to be set for, so the bomb would go off at the right point, which presumably was over Chicago."
ABC said it had been told by senior US officials that ever since the September shipment was discovered, intelligence agencies had specific concerns about the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's interest in Chicago.
Two parcels addressed to Jewish institutions in Chicago and containing the lethal explosive PETN hidden in ink toner cartridges were uncovered on Thursday on cargo planes en route to the United States in Britain and Dubai.
The packages, which officials believe were intended to blow up the planes and which were tracked down thanks to a tip-off from Saudi intelligence, have prompted Western nations to review security measures surrounding air cargo.
© 2010 AFP