Were Yemeni Terrorists Practicing for Bomb Attack?

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Authorities are hunting for 10 to 20 packages mailed from a UPS office in Sanna, Yemen, in a terror plot reportedly orchestrated by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Two suspicious packages containing toner cartridges with wires and powder--similar to the device used by the Underwear Bomber--were found on UPS cargo planes in the United Kingdom and Dubai, and were destined for American synagogues, CNN reports. One flight was headed to Chicago, and made a routine stop at England's East Midlands Airport. Planes in Philadelphia and Newark were searched for bombs, but nothing suspicious was found.

  • Bound for Chicago Synagogues, CBS News reports. Chicago Jewish centers have been warned to accept no packages from UPS, and to call the police if one is delivered. Local religious centers have been put on alert for unusual packages, though no threats to specific mosques, synagogues, or churches have been reported.
  • Was It a Dry Run? The devices may have been intended to test America's security, not explode, NBC News reports. The manipulated toner cartridge found in Britain tested negative for explosives. Meanwhile, FedEx confiscated a suspect package in Dubai and "has embargoed all shipments from Dubai indefinitely."
  • Yemen Again Center of Terror Plot, the Telegraph notes. The Joint Terrorism Task Force is looking for up to 20 packages mailed from a single place in Yemen's capital. The man who stuffed an explosive device in his underwear on a Detroit flight last Christmas Day had significant ties to Yemen. The country is unstable, torn by three conflicts, the Telegraph writes: against al Qaeda, against southern secessionists, and against the Houthi Shia insurgents in the north. Saudi Arabia has been sucked in to fight the Houthis, and though the government is touting an airstrike against their stronghold, the Houthis are proud that the government is so desperate it needs help from its neighbors. "As a Shia force, which Yemen claims is backed by Iranian religious and charitable groups, it should have little in common with al-Qaeda or Sunni jihadis... But all are determined to drive America from the Middle East, and they think they have the upper hand."
  • Al Qaeda's Meddling in Western Elections Again, John Podhoretz writes at Commentary. If reports are true, it means two things: "First, that this is an election-eve plan similar to the monstrous Madrid train bombing in 2004 — and the Bin Laden tape on the eve of the 2004 election. In the case of those elections, it was clear what al Qaeda wanted — to punish Spain for its role in the Iraq war effort and to punish George Bush. Parsing what the possible goal would be in this election is difficult, though the simplest explanation is usually the best: It’s about the U.S.’s more aggressive stance in Afghanistan. Second: This comes after an election season in which the word 'terrorism' has barely been spoken. That will end this weekend, as the closing discussion before Tuesday’s election will suddenly center on foreign, military, and homeland security policy."

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