Yemen cargo bomb plot may have been targeted at Britain

The bomb intercepted in Britain on its way to America was designed to explode in mid-air and may have been targeted at the UK.

Sean Rayment, Patrick Hennessy and David Barrett
Telegraph [UK]
30 Oct 2010

David Cameron said he believed the device was constructed to detonate while the aircraft was in flight.

The bomb intercepted on its way to America was designed to explode in mid-air and may have been targeted at the UK

He said a plot to blow it up over British soil could not be ruled out.

The Prime Minister’s dramatic intervention came as the investigation into the plot was centring on one of al-Qaeda’s most senior commanders.

US and British security officials believe Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born figurehead of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was behind the foiled attack in which two ink cartridge bombs, posted in Yemen, were intercepted in Britain and Dubai on the way to America.

Al-Awlaki, who is in hiding in Yemen, is regarded by the CIA and MI6 as the driving force behind the transformation of AQAP from a regional group into an international terrorist organisation.

A woman was arrested in Yemen on suspicion of posting the packages. Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s president, said information that identified the woman had been provided by the US and the United Arab Emirates.

Yemeni security officials said she was a medical student at Sana’a University and believed to be in her 20s. She was arrested in a poor neighbourhood in the west of Sana’a. The women’s lawyer said her mother had also been detained, but was not a prime suspect.

Fears of more plots emerged after investigators in Sana’a, the Yemeni capital, said they were examining 24 other suspect packages…

…While the devices were addressed to synagogues in Chicago, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was the first to announce that the target for the bombs could have been the planes.

She also said the Government had launched a review of Britain’s air cargo security and disclosed that all unaccompanied freight from Yemen had been stopped.

Further suspicion fell on the involvement of AQAP when Janet Napolitano, the US Homeland Security Secretary, claimed that the plot had all the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda “spectacular”.

It was well orchestrated, it targeted airlines and it was designed to cause global panic and chaos…

…Security sources told The Sunday Telegraph that an airborne attack was thought to be the terrorists’ most probable tactic.

“We think it is probably a more likely scenario than others, but it’s pretty convoluted. We have not yet done all the full tests,” said the source.

Mobile phones can be used as the trigger to detonate a bomb, by either using the handset’s internal clock as a timer or setting it to detonate when the phone receives a call or a text message…

The complete article, with video, is at the Telegraph.

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