Explosive Materials Found in U.S.-Bound Parcel

By Joseph Straw

The discovery of an explosive device in an air parcel bound for the United States from Yemen, along with other suspicious U.S.-bound packages, put law enforcement on high alert Friday, according to press reports. Although some of the packages tested negative for explosives, CBS reports that an explosive device was found in a package in Dubai that originated in Yemen.

According to CBS,"the "explosive device" was found in the last 24 hours in a courier company's regional hub and originated in a shipment from Yemen."  The article adds that a similar device was found at a Dubai courier agency's warehouse hub and an investigation is still underway with regard to that.

A suspicious package was also discovered late Thursday at a UPS sorting facility at the United Kingdom’s East Midlands Airport, according to Reuters. It contained a printing toner cartridge connected by wires to a circuit board and coated with powder, officials said. The discovery led authorities to sweep two UPS flights arriving in Newark, New Jersey and in Philadelphia, both of which were cleared.

Friday afternoon U.S. military fighter jets escorted a passenger flight from the Canadian border to its destination at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), because the plane was carrying cargo determined to be suspicious from Yemen, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Later authorities in New York stopped and inspected a UPS delivery truck carrying a package of similar origin that had passed through JFK. The investigation, in Brooklyn, forced the temporary closure of the Manhattan Bridge linking the two boroughs, according to the New York Daily News.  This package was not found to contain explosive materials.

In August, two Detroit-area Yemeni men were arrested at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam after officials discovered suspicious items in their luggage, including knives, boxcutters, and nonfunctioning mobile phones taped to a bottle of Pepto Bismol. One of the two, Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi, drew authorities’ interest when he checked a bag in Chicago for a flight to Dulles International Airport outside Washington, but instead boarded a flight to Amstersam with fellow arrestee Hezem al Murisi.

Dutch authorities conducted an investigation at the request of U.S. authorities, but released al Soofi and al Murisi after finding no evidence of a terrorist plot. Experts say that sometimes these incidents are efforts by terrorists to test how security responds.

Yemen is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and to expatriate radical American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Al-Awlaki is reported to have had contact withor influenced alleged Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, as well as several suspected “homegrown” U.S. terrorists, including Ft. Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, Virginian Zachary Adam Chesser, who pleaded guilty to posting threats online targeting the producers of the television show South Park for their portrayal of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

Most recently another terror suspect from Northern Virginia, Farooque Ahmed, a naturalized American citizen accused this week of plotting to bomb Washington area Metro stations, was reported to have listened to al-Awlaki’s Internet “sermons,” according to the Associated Press.

Photo credit: Photo by Elly Jones/flickr--creative commons license.


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