LONDON (Reuters) - A bomb found on board a cargo plane at a British airport last month could have exploded over the eastern seaboard of the United States if it had not been defused, British police said on Wednesday.
Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing has claimed responsibility for sending two U.S.-bound parcel bombs that were intercepted in Dubai and Britain in October.
The bombs, addressed to synagogues in Chicago, were found in computer printer cartridges.
The device found in Britain was taken off a cargo plane at East Midlands Airport north of London on October 29.
“Forensic examination has indicated that if the device had activated it would have been at 10:30 hrs BST (0930 GMT) on Friday, 29 October 2010,” London police said in a statement.
“If the device had not been removed from the aircraft the activation could have occurred over the eastern seaboard of the U.S.,” they said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said last month he could not rule out that the East Midlands bomb may have been intended to explode over Britain.
The police said the cargo plane arrived at East Midlands Airport from Cologne at 2:13 a.m. (0113 GMT) on October 29. It left just over two hours later after the suspect package had been removed.
The bomb was only deactivated by explosives officers when they removed the printer cartridge from the printer at about 7.40 a.m. — less than three hours before it was set to explode.
French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said last week one of the two parcel bombs was defused just 17 minutes before it was due to explode.
Governments, airlines and aviation authorities around the world have been reviewing security since the foiled plot, the latest of a number involving aircraft.
Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Avril Ormsby