Suspicious packages found in at least two locations abroad that were bound for the United States “apparently contain explosive material,” President Barack Obama said Friday, calling the discovery “a credible threat against our country.”
The packages led to increased searches of cargo planes and trucks in several U.S. cities, said law enforcement sources with detailed knowledge of the investigation.
U.S. officials believe that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, commonly referred to as AQAP, is behind the incident.
Obama confirmed that the packages originated in Yemen — the stronghold of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
“We also know that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies,” he said during a press briefing on the incident.
One suspicious package, found in the United Kingdom, contained a “manipulated” toner cartridge and had white powder on it as well as wires and a circuit board, a law enforcement source said. A similar package was discovered in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, the source said.
Both packages were bound for the United States, “specifically two places of Jewish worship in Chicago,” Obama said.
“Initial examination of those packages has determined they do apparently contain explosive material,” he said.
Authorities were looking for about 13 other packages shipped from Yemen, a law enforcement source said. Some of them had been found and an investigation of those had not indicated they are a threat, the source said.
There is no specific intelligence indicating the other packages are a threat or that they are in the United States, the source said, but authorities want to check them as a precaution.
A Yemeni diplomat in Washington said his government has opened a full-scale investigation into the incident but it was too early to speculate or reach any conclusions….