A group claiming to represent al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula issued a statement today that appeared to claim responsibility for the two package bombs ferreted aboard cargo planes last week, as well as for the September 3, 2010, crash of a United Parcel Service jet in Dubai.
“Allah has graced us to bring down a jet that belongs to the American Company UPS … after taking off from Dubai International Airport,” said the statement, which appeared on the SITE intelligence monitoring group’s website. It continued: “The media of the enemy did not attribute the work to us as we were secretive about the operation in order to do it again, and this time we did this with two devices; one of them sent through UPS and the other through Fedex; both American companies.”
The group, a Yemen-based affiliate of the larger al-Qaida network, also suggested that President Obama had wanted to cover up the earlier incident “in order to not show its security failure, especially that the operation was [shortly] before the American midterm elections ... And we say to Obama: we pointed three attacks to your planes within one year, and we will continue Allah-willing to direct our attacks on the American interests and the interests of America’s allies.”
In Washington, a U.S. counterterrorism official told National Journal that “there are very strong indications that AQAP was responsible for plotting last week’s disrupted cargo plane plot, but we can’t confirm at this point their claims about the early September incident.” The official, who would comment on the incidents only on condition of anonymity, added that “even though their latest terrorist operation was thwarted by solid intelligence efforts, the group remains a serious threat, and our government is working hard — in conjunction with foreign partners — to help take these extremists off the battlefield.”
Both the pilot and copilot of the UPS Boeing 747 were killed when it crashed on the outskirts of Dubai on September 3. The U.S. counterterrorism official said that after the two recent bombs found in the cargo planes, “U.S. officials took another hard look at the plane that went down in early September to see if it possibly was related to terrorism. No hard conclusions have been reached on that yet.”
U.S. officials revealed October 29 that two packages originating in Yemen and containing sophisticated explosive devices had been shipped aboard cargo planes destined for a synagogue and Jewish center in Chicago. Disguised as printer cartridges, the bombs were revealed to include large amounts of the explosive powder PETN and connections to mobile phones; authorities indicated that at least one of the bombs was intended to go off in mid-air.
The al-Qaida affiliate’s statement today boasted that “our improvised device allows us the opportunity to detonate it in the air, or after it reaches its final target, and it is designed to bypass all the detection machines ... We intend on publicizing the idea for our Mujahideen brothers in the world, and broadening the circle of applying it to include the civilian airplanes in the West plus cargo airplanes.”