Al Qaeda Yemen wing claims parcel plot, UPS crash

DUBAI Fri Nov 5, 2010 5:54pm EDT

A forensic officer removes a package from a UPS container at East Midlands Airport in Castle Donington, central England October 29, 2010. REUTERS/Darren Staples

A forensic officer removes a package from a UPS container at East Midlands Airport in Castle Donington, central England October 29, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Darren Staples

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing claimed responsibility for a foiled plot to send explosive parcels to the United States last week, and for the crash of a UPS jet in Dubai in September.

A statement that appeared on Islamist websites on Friday, attributed to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), also vowed more strikes on the United States in comments addressed to President Barack Obama.

"We say to Obama, we have struck your jets three times in one year and we will continue, God willing, to strike the interests of America and its allies."

In Washington an official said the United States could not confirm that AQAP was behind the September 3 crash of the aircraft operated by the U.S. parcel delivery firm UPS.

"There are very strong indications that AQAP was responsible for plotting last week's disrupted cargo plane plot," a U.S. counter-terrorism official told Reuters. "But we can't confirm at this point their claims about the early September incident," added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

AQAP's statement also blamed Saudi Arabia for tipping off security services and allowing them to intercept the bombs, addressed to two Chicago synagogues, in Britain and Dubai last Friday. "Our devices were headed to Jewish Zionist temples but you intervened with your treachery to protect them," it said.

The militant group claimed responsibility for the UPS crash, in which two crew members died, even though the United Arab Emirates' civil aviation authority said on Sunday that there was no evidence of an explosive device aboard the jet.

"Because the act was not attributed to us, we were able to wait until we could return and strike again," the AQAP statement said.

A UPS spokesman in the United States said the company had no independent verification of what caused its Germany-bound Boeing 747-400 plane to crash after the pilot reported fire and smoke in the cockpit.

"We certainly have no independent knowledge of these claims...we have to rely on investigators, and the investigators are telling us there was no bomb," he said.

(Reporting by Erika Solomon; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington; Editing by David Stamp)

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