NEW YORK (CBS 2) — The two mail bombs intercepted in Britain and Dubai had no fingerprints or DNA according to German investigators, but they contained enough explosives to cause “significant” damage to the planes carrying them. As a result, both Germany and Britain have banned all passenger flights from Yemen.
The alleged bomb-maker, according to US intelligence, was 28-year-old Saudi Arabian Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who is also suspected of building the failed “underwear bomb” on Christmas Day, CBS 2’s John Slattery reported.
Yemeni security sources said the person who tipped them off was an al-Qaida militant in Yemen — Jabir al-Fayfi — who recently surrendered to Saudi authorities.
CBS 2’s Don Dahler reported that last year al-Asiri turned his brother Abdullah into a human booby-trap by planting an explosive device inside his body.
Al-Asiri’s brother pretended he was a militant who wanted to surrender in person to Prince Muhammed Bin Naif, a Saudi security minister known for reforming terrorists. Bin Naif even flew Abdullah to his palace in his private jet. When the two men met, the bomb inside Abdullah’s nether regions was triggered by a text message to his cell phone. The explosion blew the terrorist in half, but only slightly injured the Saudi prince.
Counter-terrorism experts worry al-Asiri’s failures will only make him more determined.
Transportation Security Administration officials are now warning American consumers to be on the lookout for questionable mail with characteristics like excessive postage or no return address.
“We’re working with our international partners to shore up the defenses that we have in terms of trying to identify where other suspect packages may be,” TSA Administrator John Pistole said.
The US has put a hold on all shipments from Yemen, from where the expertly wired cargo bombs, hidden in printers, originated.
“We are concerned about individuals in Yemen who have very proficient bomb-making capabilities who are very dangerous,” President Obama’s Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan said.
Yemini-Americans in New York said the unflattering spotlight on their homeland has been troubling.
“We live good here in America, but the terrorist people make us look bad,” Hamood Fadah told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.
Officials worry there could still be other explosive packages in circulation, and say al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula presents a long-term threat.
“al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen is the most dangerous of al-Qaeda’s branches or allies,” CBS News National Security Consultant Juan Zarate said.
Meanwhile, New York area synagogues were on heightened alert Monday, and some New York City apartment buildings were taking the extra precaution of not accepting package deliveries at all.
State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a prominent member of Brooklyn’s Jewish community, said it was no longer a question of if synagogues will be struck by terrorists, but when.
“It’s an awakening call to all of us saying the threat of radical Islam is not over, and will not be over,” Hikind told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.