Saudis warned US of attack before mail bomb plots

November 6th, 2010 - 11:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Nov 6 (IANS) Weeks before two mail bombs were detected in cargo flights in Britain and Dubai, Saudi intelligence officials warned America about the Yemen-based Al Qaeda militants’ plot, European and US officials have said.

Saudi intelligence officials warned the US in early October that Al Qaeda in Yemen was planning a terrorist attack using one or more aircraft, three weeks before the two parcel bombs addressed to Chicago-based synagogue were intercepted Oct 29, The New York Times reported quoting American and European officials.

The Saudi warning came days after US officials intercepted several packages in mid-September that contained books, papers, CDs and other household items shipped to Chicago from Yemen.

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 Detroit-bound passenger jet last Dec 25.

US 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 CIA spokesman said Friday in an e-mail, referring to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

A tip from Saudi intelligence officials Oct 28 that bombs might be on cargo flights prompted officials in the US and several other countries to begin a frantic search.

That tip was the third and most specific alert from the Saudis in a chain of increasingly urgent warnings to intelligence and counterterrorism officials in Britain, Germany and the US, the officials said.

Saudi intelligence provided a much more detailed warning Oct 9, saying that Al Qaeda in Yemen had four days earlier completed planning for an attack against the US or Europe that would use one or two airplanes, possibly simultaneously, the European officials said.

Officials said the warning indicated that the attacks would unfold within a week or so.

An American official, however, said: “The information we received in early October contained no mention of cargo planes, or the precise details of the plot - to include what planes might be involved, where they might originate, or who the perpetrators might be.”

“No one knew, for instance, that AQAP was specifically targeting planes departing Yemen. All of this was taken very seriously, and that’s a key reason why everyone moved quickly when the Saudis contacted American officials last week.”

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