Powerful explosives addressed to Chicago synagogues may have been intended to destroy the planes they were sent on, security officials acknowledged as they tried to figure out how to respond to the al-Qaida-linked plot.
Disaster was narrowly averted, officials said Sunday. One device almost slipped through Britain and another seized in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates was unwittingly flown on two passenger jets.
Investigators were still piecing together the potency and construction of two bombs they believed were designed by the top explosives expert working for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen-based faction thought to be behind the plot. Yemeni authorities hunted suspects linked to the group, but released a female computer engineering student arrested Saturday, saying someone else had posed as her in signing the shipping documents.
Authorities admitted how close the terrorists came to getting their bombs through, and a senior U.S. official said investigators were still trying to figure out if other devices remained at large.
Deputy national security adviser John Brennan told CNN's "State of the Union," that "it would be very imprudent ... to presume that there are no others (packages) out there."