Suspicious packages raise alarm in US, UK

UPS packages sent from Yemen, two to Jewish institutions in Chicago, are intercepted and checked for explosive material.

October 29, 2010 19:25
2 minute read.
A volunteer passes through the first full-body sca

full body scanner chicago 311. (photo credit: AP)

Jewish institutions were among the intended recipients of the suspicious packages examined by US authorities on Friday, according to various media reports.

New details regarding the suspicious UPS packages being examined by US authorities were publicized Friday evening, as major US media noted that all the suspicious packages discovered by authorities were shipped from Yemen using the United Parcel Service company.

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Unnamed US law enforcement sources were described by different media sources as stating that the listed shipping addresses for two of the four packages were a Jewish synagogue and Jewish community center in Chicago.

None of the packages were said to have actually contained explosives, but the first package discovered was designed to appear as an explosive device.

The suspicious package, containing a toner cartridge with wires and powder, was found during routine screening of cargo in the United Kingdom and prompted authorities to scour three planes and a truck in the United States on Friday.

Searches were conducted in the northeastern cities of Philadelphia, Newark, New Jersey, and New York City.

During a basic security screening process in the United Kingdom, officials found a suspicious item on a cargo plane, according to a US government official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

UK officials discovered that a toner cartridge on the plane had been manipulated and found wires attached to it and white powder. Tests on the device came back negative for explosives, according to a law enforcement official who also spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.

Concerns about the possibility of similar and potentially dangerous devices shipped elsewhere prompted officials to check other cargo headed to the US.

US Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Kristin Lee says the planes in Philadelphia and Newark were being swept. The planes were moved away from terminal buildings so law enforcement officials could investigate.

The Philadelphia jet belonged to UPS. A source with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak said officials in Newark were examining a UPS package.

In New York City, police responded to reports of a possible explosive in a UPS truck, top NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. Browne said the package was removed and was being examined in Brooklyn.

Mike Mangeot, a spokesman for Atlanta-based UPS Inc., said two planes in Philadelphia that had come from Cologne, Germany, and Paris were being investigated.

"Out of an abundance of caution, those aircraft have been isolated, and they are looking into the shipments in question there," he said.

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