Saudis warned US before discovery of parcel bomb plot

November 6th, 2010 - 1:03 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Nov.6 (ANI): Saudi intelligence officials had warned the United States in early October that Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen was planning a terrorist attack using one or more aircraft, three weeks before a plot to send parcel bombs on cargo planes was foiled at the last minute.

The New York Times quoted American and European officials as saying that the Saudi warning came days after American officials intercepted several packages in mid-September that contained books, papers, CDs and other household items shipped to Chicago from Yemen.

The Americans considered the possibility that those parcels might be a test run for a terrorist attack.

Taken together, the Saudi warning and the suspected dry run provide a more detailed picture than American officials had previously described of mounting indications of a possible attack by the same branch of Al Qaeda that tried to blow up a passenger airliner over Detroit last Dec. 25.

American officials cautioned that the Saudi tip in early October, though more specific than other previous warnings, made no mention of an impending attack on the air cargo system.

“Over the past several months, we received intelligence - which was shared across our government - from our foreign partners about threats from AQAP and other terrorist groups,” George Little, a spokesman for the C.I.A., said Friday in an e-mail, referring to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

A tip from Saudi intelligence officials to the Obama administration on October 28 that bombs might be on cargo flights prompted officials in the United States and several other countries to begin a frantic search.

Two shipments containing explosives, sent from Yemen and addressed to synagogues in Chicago, were intercepted in Britain and Dubai.

That tip was the third and most specific alert from the Saudis in a chain of increasingly urgent warnings to intelligence and counter-terrorism officials in Britain, Germany and the United States, the officials said.The first tip, in July, was a general warning of an attack against the United States or Europe, European intelligence officials said Friday.

Saudi intelligence provided a much more detailed warning on October 9, saying that Al Qaeda in Yemen had four days earlier completed planning for an attack against the United States or Europe that would use one or two airplanes, possibly simultaneously, the European officials said. The warning indicated that the attacks would unfold within a week or so, officials said.

The German magazine Der Spiegel told The New York Times it would report the Saudi warnings in its editions next week, and the American officials confirmed them to The Times.

Also on Friday, Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen claimed responsibility for sending the parcel bombs from Yemen last week, confirming what counter-terrorism officials had assumed about who was behind the foiled attack on cargo planes. (ANI)

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