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Sunday, October 31

Latest on Yemen parcel bombs

The (U.K.) Telegraph has the investigators' latest theory on the plot, which is that the bombs "were designed to blow up passenger jets in a Lockerbie-style terrorist outrage." Why passenger planes, given that the packages were sent as air freight? The Telegraph explains:
More than half of all freight to the US is carried on passenger flights and Lord Carlisle of Berriew, the former government adviser on terrorism, said there was every chance a parcel bomb could end up on a passenger plane.

“If you put a parcel into UPS, you have no way of knowing what flight it is going to go on,” he said. “It could end up on a passenger flight.”

One of the bombs went to Dubai via Doha in Qatar on a passenger aircraft. The device that was found at East Midlands airport left the Yemeni capital of Sana’a on a passenger aircraft, which is also thought to have stopped at Doha, before it travelled to Cologne in Germany and Britain in cargo planes. [Home Secretary Theresa May] said: “What became clear overnight on Friday and into Saturday was that it was indeed a viable device and could have exploded.

“It could have exploded on the aircraft, and it could have exploded when the aircraft was in mid air. Had that happened it could have brought the aircraft down.”

Mrs May said it was “difficult” to say whether the explosion would have happened over Britain or America. “With these freight flights sometimes the routing can change at the last moment so it is difficult for those who are planning the detonation to know exactly where — if it is detonated to a time, for example — the aircraft will be,” she added. [...]
How many of the contraptions are out there?
After investigators in Yemen confirmed that they were examining 26 other packages, John Brennan, President Barack Obama’s counter-­terrorism adviser, said “it would be very imprudent … to presume that there are no other” [bombs].

Mr Brennan described the bombs as “sophisticated”, adding: “They were self-contained. They were able to be detonated at a time of the terrorists’ choosing.”

He said the plot “bears the hallmark” of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the terrorist organisation’s Yemeni-based operation, whose leaders include Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born preacher.

The most likely bomb maker is said to be Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who made the device used in the foiled Christmas airline attack over Detroit.[...]
Lot's more data in the report, including the news that Prime Minister David Cameron is facing harsh criticism for waiting 24 hours before releasing information on the bomb plot to the public.

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