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Yemeni arrested, al-Qaida bomber eyed in mail plot

Oct 30, 2010 9:12:00 PM - thestate.com
Yemeni police arrested a woman on suspicion of mailing a pair of bombs powerful enough to take down airplanes, officials said Saturday as details emerged about a terrorist plot aimed at the U.S. that exploited security gaps in the worldwide shipping system.

Investigators were hunting Yemen for more suspects tied to al-Qaida and several U.S. officials identified the terrorist group's top explosives expert in Yemen as the most likely bombmaker.

The explosives, addressed to Chicago-area synagogues, were pulled off airplanes in England and the United Arab Emirates early Friday morning, touching off a tense search for other devices.

It still wasn't clear whether the bombs, which officials said were wired to cell phones, timers and power supplies, could have been detonated remotely while the planes were in the air, or when the packages were halfway around the world in the U.S. But the fact that they made it onto airplanes showed that nearly a decade since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, terrorists continue to probe and find security vulnerabilities.

The packages were addressed to two synagogues in the Chicago area. But British Prime Minister David Cameron said Saturday that he believes the explosive device found at the East Midlands Airport in central England was intended to detonate aboard the plane.

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