Brits: Bomb appeared set to explode over eastern U.S.By ANTHONY M. DESTEFANO
November 11, 2010
Tests on a failed parcel bomb from Yemen showed the device may have been designed to detonate over the eastern United States, British officials revealed Wednesday.
The bomb found Oct. 29 in a printer cartridge on a United Parcel Service plane at the East Midlands airport north of London appeared to have been activated so that it would detonate at 9:30 a.m. British time, UK police said, which would have put the flight somewhere over the eastern part of the United States.
It was unclear Wednesday what route the UPS plane, which ultimately landed safely at its destination at Newark Liberty International Airport, would have taken on its trip from the United Kingdom.
Another bomb, also destined for the United States, was found the same day in Dubaiand never made it onto a FedEx plane, law enforcement officials said. Both devices, which were mailed to Chicago-area synagogues, were fabricated in Yemen, where an al-Qaida affiliate is suspected of engineering the plot. Neither UPS nor
FedEx spokeswomen would comment about what routes their cargo aircraft fly from Europe.But had the bomb exploded in midair, investigators said it could have caused the aircraft to crash, a scenario that could have brought substantial casualties on the ground had the explosion happened over heavily populated areas around metropolitan areas like New York, Boston or Newark.
Politicians and law enforcement officials said the revelations proved again that New York City and the region are directly in al-Qaida's crosshairs.
"It shows once again that the Northeast and New York was the main target and shows al-Qaida's obsession with New York," Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said.
Moments before the British police disclosure, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told a news conference the parcel bomb conspiracy had been foiled with good international cooperation.
"It just underscores the importance of having cooperation with countries around the world,"Kelly said. "This is an evolving threat; you have to be flexible."
While Kelly had no further comment, another NYPD official privately acknowledged that the city remained a top terror target.
White House spokesman Nick Shapiro issued a statement lauding the professionalism of the British authorities and the cooperation the bomb plot's defusing reflected.
"The findings as outlined in the statement issued by the British police underscore the serious nature of the attempted attack and the challenge we all face in trying to prevent or disrupt such attacks," the White House said.
The United States will continue to work closely with foreign law enforcement and the Yemeni government to address and counter the threat posed by al-Qaida, and to provide humanitarian and economic assistance to help shape a stable and secure Yemen, the White House stated.
On Capitol Hill, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), who is pushing legislation to require mandatory screening of all air cargo transport planes, warned the foiled plot this time was no guarantee a future attack would be stopped in time.
"There is no snooze button for an alarm clock strapped to a bomb," Markey said in a statement, adding "aviation is still at the top of al-Qaida's terrorist target list."