US president says suspicious packages from Yemen found in UK, Dubai apparently contained explosives, adds US views case as 'credible terrorist threat' and security to be increased for as long as necessary.
US President Barack Obama said Friday that suspicious packages sent from Yemen to the US apparently contained explosives, and that they were intended for Jewish institutions in Chicago.
Obama said investigators had discovered a "credible terrorist threat" against the United States and that security would be increased in response to the incident for as long as it takes. He said the parcels were bound for "two places of Jewish worship in Chicago."
Speaking at the White House, Obama said Yemen's president had pledged to cooperate in the investigation. Obama expressed suspicions that a militant group called al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is behind the incident, saying the group continues to plot attacks against the United States.
The packages were found in Dubai and the United Kingdom. Obama said an initial examination has determined that "they do apparently contain explosive material."
Obama pledged US officials will spare no effort to find the source of the packages and any additional plots.
Jewish groups warned ahead of time
Michael Kotzin, vice president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, told Ynet Friday that synagogues and other locations associated with Judaism were asked to check their mail with additional care even before the bomb threat surfaced.
Kotzin said the first warning came regarding packages originating in Yemen, and later came warnings regarding Saudi Arabia and additional countries.
"We need to be careful on all days of the year, not just today," he said. "We remind synagogues and Jewish institutions every once in a while to be alert and aware of the dangers, and provide lectures on this issue – how to act when such information is received."
The Anti-Defamation League also stated Friday that it had been notified by law enforcement officials that Jewish institutions may be targeted soon. The league also reported mention of warnings against packages arriving from Britain, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. In response, the organization ordered Jewish facilities to remain alert.
'Terrorists were performing trial run'
One of the suspicious packages was found on a United Parcel Service cargo plane at East Midlands Airport, about 260 km north of London. The other was discovered at a FedEx Corp facility in Dubai.
British police said an item found on the UPS plane was sent for further testing. CNN said it was an ink toner cartridge converted into a bomb.
Before Obama spoke, an FBI source had told Reuters that initial tests in Britain revealed no explosives.
In the United States, UPS planes were checked in New Jersey and Philadelphia. The Transportation Security Administration said they were searched "out of an abundance of caution."
US officials and some analysts speculated that the suspicious parcels may have been a test of cargo screening procedures and the reaction of security officials.
"One possibility, if this is terrorism related, is that this may be a trial run," one US official said.
Intelligence about the possible plot had come from an ally abroad, the official said, without elaborating.
The US Department of Homeland Security said it was stepping up aviation security measures as a result of the scare. The British government said it was "too soon to say" whether it would follow suit but was "urgently considering" what steps to take about freight coming from Yemen.
White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan later told reporters that the explosives "were in a form that was designed to try to carry out some type of attack," but he provided no further details.
"The forensic analysis is under way," he said, adding, "Clearly from the initial observation, the initial analysis that was done, the materials that were found in the device that was uncovered was intended to do harm."
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -