- Woman student held in Yemen after SIM card is found on device
- Home Secretary Theresa May promises extra security checks on air cargo
- Bomb discovered on jet in UK following MI6 tip-off
- Similar Fed-Ex package seized in Dubai
- ‘Bombs’ were addressed to synagogues in Chicago
The ink-bomb found on a US-bound cargo plane in Britain was designed to explode in mid-air, David Cameron said yesterday. ‘We believe the device was designed to go off on the aeroplane,’ the Prime Minister said. ‘There is no early evidence it [the explosion] was designed to take place over British soil, but of course we cannot rule that out.’ He spoke as it was revealed that a Saudi bombmaker has been named as a key suspect in the plot to bring down the cargo jets.
Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who tops a Saudi Arabian terrorism list, is the brother of a suicide bomber killed in an attempt to kill Saudi counter-terrorism chief Prince Mohammed bin Nayef last year.
That attack, as well as another attempt on a US-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009, involved the use of pentaerythritol trinitrate (PETN) – a highly potent explosive that appears to be the weapon of choice of al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch.
Prime suspect: Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri is a Saudi bombmaker linked to a foiled attack on the head of the country’s security services last year. At least one of the two US-bound parcel bombs sent from Yemen addressed to synagogues in Chicago and intercepted in Dubai and Britain on Friday employed PETN. The US official said Asiri was being closely looked at by authorities in view of his experience with explosives.
There were also indications he may have been the bombmaker behind the Christmas Day attempt and the failed attack on Prince Nayaf last year, the official added. Saudi Arabia, which provided intelligence that helped identify the parcel bomb threat, put Asiri at the top of its terrorism list in 2009. Security officials are scrambling to track down any AQAP operatives behind the latest plot.
The bomb was found on Friday at East Midlands Airport, near Nottingham. A similar device was found on a plane in Dubai. Both bombs were in packages addressed to Jewish organisations in Chicago.