Update: Yemini Officials arrest 22-year-old University engineering student on suspicion of mailing two bombs to synagogues

Top U.S. security official warns on more mail bombs

October 31, 2010

(JTA) — More mail bombs like those that were mailed to synagogues in Chicago may be out there, a top U.S. security official told news shows.

John Brennan, the deputy national security adviser, said on the Sunday morning programs that there might be more mail bombs like the two discovered last Friday. He added that the potential attacks are characteristic of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

“They are a dangerous group. They are a determined group. They are still at war with us and we are very much at war with them,” Brennan told “Meet the Press.” “They are going to try to identify vulnerabilities that might exist in the system.”

On Saturday, security forces in Yemen arrested a Sana’a University engineering student,  22-year-old Hanan Al-Samawi, suspected of mailing two bombs to the synagogues. Samawi’s mother, 45, also was arrested, according to reports.

President Obama said last Friday in a televised news conference that the packages headed for the United States constituted a “credible terrorist threat” and had been addressed to Jewish organizations in the Chicago area.

One of the reported targets was Congregation Or Chadash, which serves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews, and shares space with Emanuel Congregation, a Reform temple, in a building along Chicago’s lakefront, according to the Chicago Tribune.

A second targeted synagogue reportedly was in Chicago’s East Rogers Park neighborhood, according to the Tribune, though the newspaper reported that no synagogues have been operating in the neighborhood since 2002.

One of the bombs, which was identified and defused last Friday at a FedEx way station in the United Arab Emirates, bore the hallmarks of an al-Qaida bomb, Dubai police said, according to reports. A second, similar bomb was located on the same day in London.

The mail bomb found in Dubai reportedly traveled on two passenger planes to reach the country, Qatar Airways reportedly said Sunday.

Hidden inside printer cartridges, the explosives were large enough to bring down an airplane and could be detonated by remote control.

Brennan said that officials are trying to determine whether the planes or the synagogues were the intended targets.

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“Credible” Terror Threat to Jewish Institutions

Jewish communities alerted on packages

October 29, 2010

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. law enforcement has warned Jewish institutions to be on the lookout for packages mailed from overseas.

“There is a reported threat to Jewish institutions in the form of packages mailed from overseas, particularly Great Britain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia,” the Anti-Defamation League said in an alert Friday afternoon. “In light of the reported threat, the League has sent out a notice to U.S. Jewish communal institutions across the country to increase mailroom security and to contact law enforcement immediately if they see anything suspicious.”

Queries should be directed to the FBI, the alert said.

The alert apparently was triggered by suspicious packages discovered en route to the United States.

“Last night, intelligence and law enforcement agencies discovered potential suspicious packages on two planes in transit to the United States,” the White House said Friday. “Based on close cooperation among U.S. government agencies and with our foreign allies and partners, authorities were able to identify and examine two suspicious packages, one in East Midlands, United Kingdom and one in Dubai. Both of these packages originated from Yemen. As a result of security precautions triggered by this threat, the additional measures were taken regarding the flights at Newark Liberty and Philadelphia International Airports.”

One such package was ultimately headed to Chicago, according to an alert by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.

“The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago has alerted area synagogues not to open packages that appear suspicious due to the way they are wrapped, or which come from Yemen or from any organization that has the name ‘Yemen’ in it,” it said.  “Any institution that receives such a package is advised to call “911” and to evacuate the premises until law enforcement arrives.”

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