Counterterrorism Chief Says The U.S. Remains Vigilant

WASHINGTON (AP/CBSNewYork) — Authorities on three continents thwarted multiple terrorist attacks aimed at the United States from Yemen on Friday, seizing two explosive packages addressed to Chicago-area synagogues and packed aboard cargo jets. The plot triggered worldwide fears that al-Qaida was launching a major new terror campaign.

PHOTOS: Cargo Plane Terror Probe

President Barack Obama called the coordinated attacks a “credible terrorist threat,” and U.S. officials said they were increasingly confident that al-Qaida’s Yemen branch, the group responsible for the failed Detroit airliner bombing last Christmas, was responsible.

Parts of the plot might remain undetected, Obama’s counterterror chief warned. “The United States is not assuming that the attacks were disrupted and is remaining vigilant,” John Brennan said at the White House.

One of the packages was found aboard a cargo plane in Dubai, the other in England. Preliminary tests indicated the packages contained the powerful industrial explosive PETN, the same chemical used in the Christmas attack, U.S. officials said. The tests had not been confirmed.

President Obama’s full statement on terror scare

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney at Newark Liberty International Airport

WCBS 880’s Pat Farnack with Rep. Peter King (R-New York)

1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports

Because the packages were addressed to Jewish places of worship in Chicago, investigators gave the immediate heads-up to the Anti-Defamation League.

“They did ask us to reach out to our community contacts and let them know about an increased risk,” Clare Pinkert of the ADL told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

An additional 13 suspicious packages could be unaccounted for, resulting in stepped up security.

Members of Jewish institutions have been warned to be on the lookout for packages mailed from overseas — especially from Yemen, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia, Carlin reported.

In the U.S., cargo planes were searched up and down the Eastern Seaboard, and an Emirates Airlines passenger jet was escorted down the coast to JFK Airport by American fighter jets.

No explosives were found aboard those planes, though the investigation was continuing on at least two.

Obama’s sobering assessment, delivered from the White House podium, unfolded four days before national elections in which discussion of terrorism has played almost no role. The president went ahead with weekend campaign appearances.

“I was alerted to this threat last night by my top counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan. I directed the Department of Homeland Security, and all our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, to take whatever steps are necessary to protect our citizens from this type of attack,” Obama said.

The terrorist efforts “underscore the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism,” the president said. While he said both packages that contained explosives originated in Yemen, he did not explicitly assign blame to al-Qaida, which is active in that Arab country and long has made clear its goal of launching new attacks on the United States.

Authorities in Dubai intercepted one explosive device. The second package was aboard a plane searched in East Midlands, north of London, and officials said it contained a printer toner cartridge with wires and powder. Brennan said the devices were in packages about the size of a breadbox.

While Obama didn’t specifically accuse Yemen’s al-Qaida branch, Brennan called it the most active al-Qaida franchise and said anyone associated with the group was a subject of concern.

“We do know that the packages originated in Yemen. We also know that al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a terrorist group based in Yemen, continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens and our friends and allies,” the President said.

The radical U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who now is in hiding in Yemen, is believed to have helped inspire recent attacks including the Fort Hood shooting, the Times Square bombing attempt and the failed Detroit airliner bombing last Christmas Day. Another American hiding in Yemen, Samir Khan, has declared himself a traitor and has helped produce al-Qaida propaganda.

Most of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the ongoing investigation.

Brennan later told reporters that the explosives “were in a form that was designed to try to carry out some type of attack,” but he provided no further details.

“The forensic analysis is under way,” he said, adding, “Clearly from the initial observation, the initial analysis that was done, the materials that were found in the device that was uncovered was intended to do harm.”

Intelligence personnel had been monitoring a suspected plot for days, officials said. The packages in England and Dubai were discovered after Saudi Arabian intelligence picked up information related to Yemen and passed it on to the U.S., one official said.

U.S. intelligence officials warned last month that terrorists hoped to mail chemical and biological materials as part of an attack on America and other Western countries using the mail. The alert came in a Sept. 23 bulletin from the Homeland Security Department and obtained by The Associated Press.





In the hours following the discoveries, Yemeni officials and Scotland Yard were investigating and the U.S. issued a 72-hour ban on all cargo from Yemen.

“As a precaution, DHS has taken a number of steps to enhance security,” the agency said in a statement. “Some of these security measures will be visible while others will not.”

U.S. authorities conducted searches of aircraft in Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., and New York City.

Since the failed Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner, Yemen has been a focus for U.S. counterterrorism officials. Before that attack, the U.S. regarded al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen as primarily a threat in the region, not to the United States.

The Yemen branch known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has since become a leading source of terrorist propaganda and recruiting. Authorities believe about 300 al-Qaida members or cells operate in Yemen.

The Yemeni government has stepped up counterterrorism operations, with help from the U.S. military and intelligence officials. Mohammed Shayba, general-director of the state airline’s cargo department, said the government is conducting an investigation.

“Those in charge are in constant meetings and they are investigating and taking the issue seriously,” he told The Associated Press.

(TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

More from Levon Putney
  • Janet Napolitano In NYC To Unveil New Terror Alert System - Accurate, Sharp and Reliable - Blog News, Techno and Education

    […] unveil the replacement to the color-coded terror alert system at an event in New York City […]

  • Department Of Homeland Security Reportedly Was Planning To Change Terror Alert System From Colors To Elevated And Imminent Threat Alerts Sent Via Facebook, Twitter « CBS New York

    […] Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano will unveil the replacement to the color-coded terror alert system at an event in New York City […]

  • Feds: Times Square Mastermind Al-Awlaki Now Bigger Threat Than Bin LadenCBS New York

    […] YouTube Removes Videos From Yemeni Cleric | Yemen Arrests Woman Accused In Mail Bomb Plot | Counterterrorism Chief Says The U.S. Remains Vigilant | Officials Say Bomb Plot Just Narrowly […]

  • President Barack Obama » Obama: Authorities Uncovered 'Credible Terrorist Threat' « CBS New …

    […] here to see the original: Obama: Authorities Uncovered 'Credible Terrorist Threat' « CBS New … This entry was written by Nakaltos & filed under Obama and tagged are-investigating, […]

  • BC

    Funny how all this comes up when fingers were pointing at Halliburton yesterday, regarding the colossal BP oil spill:

    So that’s how it works? Flag and firecrackers to distract the sheeple? Looks like it’s working.

  • DanTe

    I love the mu-slime lovers here. Totally brainless T ARDS.

    FACT: Everywhere where there are mu-Slimes, sh-!t happens.

    China — sh-!t happens
    (suicide bombers that kill little children and run amok with metal pipes in the streets)

    India — sh-!t happens
    (mu-slimes burned 100s of hindus alive in packed trains and burned villagers alive while they slept)

    Middle East — sh-!t happens
    (suicide bombers that kill little children)

    Russia — sh-!t happens
    (suicide bombers that kill women and children in crowded theaters)

    South East Asia — sh-!t happens
    (mu-slime thugs who kidnap teachers, school children, nurses, priests for ransom, than murder them all)

    Europe — sh-!t happens
    (suicide bombers that kill little children)

    USA — 9/11 happened

    Goes to reason, no mu-slimes, no sh-!t.
    All these camel turds understand is violence and lies anyway. I say we oblige them by killing them all and than lie about how sorry we are.

    Islam. It’s a disease. And like any other infestations of boils, pox and pestilence, it should be eradicated. You don’t talk to diseases. You eradicate them like you did polio and small pox.

    And some bleeding heart imbecile here will post that it’s just a few “radical” individuals that are murderous, just like any other society. But than conveniently forgetting about the Fact that it happens worldwide and by a LOT MORE than just a few individuals. And they also continues to blank out of their empty heads the worldwide mu-slime jubilee celebrations as people burned on 9/11.

  • pat

    Obama told reporters Friday that he was alerted to the threat Thursday night and that he directed the Homeland Security Department and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take whatever steps were necessary to protect American citizens.

    Then how come the package was taken off the plane loaded onto a UPS truck and made its way to downtown Brooklyn before it was stopped and searched??

    Somebody fell asleep at the switch here.

  • Winston Churchmouse

    According to the Department of Redundancy Department, we have nothing to fear but fear itself.

  • Lynne

    They’ll interrupt One Life to Live and General Hospital — but they’ll never interrupt OPRAH!

  • singer

    I think we need to take this more seriously than just being cautious. Terrorism is real and the ignorance of the comment above by Ahkmed just goes to show how much more we need to take these things seriously.

    • Jamie

      yes exactly.

  • Thomas J.Peters

    I prevented a ” 911″ and lost my job ! See Thomas Peters on facebook .


    You have spent most of a hour of air time and all you have said is some suspisious packages that have been cleared were found. No Volcanos no stormes, no earthquakes no weather. get back to regular programs now

    • bored

      yeah yeah
      we get it
      you’re being suavely jaded
      haute coutre lazy fare
      now grow up and get a job

  • Dubya Tee Eff

    Prolly a “test-run”.

  • BC

    Funny how this is timed just before Election Day. Looks like someone’s trying to keep fear alive.

    • dfdfe

      its a conspiracy….seem like the government get an excuse to declare war?

      • AHKMED

        EXACTLY! dfdfe
        OR WE WILL _KILL_ YOU!

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live