Suspicious Packages From Yemen (2)

Posted: October 29, 2010 in Homeland Terror Alerts, Suspicious Packages From Yemen (02)

Cargo Planes Checked for Suspicious Packages

By LIZ ROBBINS

Published: October 29, 2010

Federal investigators swept cargo planes at two United States airports on Friday morning, searching for suspicious packages, after a potentially explosive device was found Thursday night at an airport near Birmingham, England, originating in Yemen and bound for Chicago, officials said.

Officials isolated UPS cargo planes that landed at Philadelphia and Newark airports on Friday morning because they were carrying packages that appeared to have the same origin as the suspicious device in Britain. A UPS truck in Brooklyn was also stopped and checked on Friday. But in each case so far, the packages that have reached the United States have been found to be nonthreatening.

At East Midlands Airport in Britain, where UPS has a cargo sorting facility, the attention of security officials was attracted to a suspicious package that had come from Yemen. They found in it a toner cartridge that appeared to have been tampered with in a way that made it resemble an improvised bomb, though tests for the presence of explosives were negative, a law enforcement official said. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing.

The official did not have specific details on what was found, but added that it was “not an explosive.” The Associated Press and CNN reported that the toner cartridge had wires and an electronic circuit board attached to it and that it was covered with a white powder.

A statement posted on the UPS web site said the company was cooperating closely with authorities. “Because these incidents are still being investigated, we don’t have any further details.” the statement said.

The Transportation Security Administration said in a statement that it was “aware of and monitoring reports of potentially suspicious items onboard cargo flights that landed safely at Newark Liberty and Philadelphia International airports. Out of an abundance of caution, the planes were moved to a remote location where they are being met by law enforcement officials and swept.”

Shortly after noon, a spokesman for Newark Liberty International Airport, Steve Coleman, said the package that officials sought on the plane there “has been cleared.”

Mr. Coleman said that the item in question was examined in Building 350, the UPS building at the airport, and “was deemed non-threatening.”

At a press briefing, New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said investigators had examined a package on a UPS delivery truck at the Chase Bank branch at the Metrotech complex in Brooklyn. The package had come from Yemen and passed through Kennedy Airport, Commissioner Kelly said, and it fit a pattern of such packages. It turned out to be an envelope containing receipts, he said, and posed no threat; neither did another package on the truck that looked similar, he said. Mr. Kelly gave little detail about how the packages came to the attention of the department, except to say their origin in Yemen was a factor.

CNN reported that Philadelphia Fire Department officials had examined a package found on a UPS cargo plane isolated at the airport there, and found it to be harmless.

American military officials have increased their support to Yemen after a Nigerian man suspected of training with Al Qaeda in Yemen tried and failed to explode a bomb hidden in his underwear on a Detroit-bound jetliner on Christmas Day.

William K. Rashbaum, Al Baker and Karen Zraick contributed reporting.

 

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