Saturday, November 06, 2010

Al-Qaeda owns up September UPS crash, cargo-bombs plot

By SreeRam Banda
International Business Times
Saturday, November 6, 2010 4:48 AM EDT

Did the White House try to silence a major terrorist attack fearing a backlash in the latest Mid-term elections? Did the Pentagon already know that operatives of Al-Qaeda brought down the UPS aircraft near Dubai in September this year? Or was it a major security and investigation lapse that Intelligence agencies failed to see the crash as a terror plot?

A communique issued on jihadist forums on Friday posed serious questions to the Obama Administration. Striking a blow to global intelligence networks, Al-Qaeda's offshoot in Yemen has claimed to have brought down a United Parcel Service aircraft near Dubai in September this year. According to SITE Intelligence Group, the terror-outfit, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), also owned up the responsibility of orchestrating the foiled bomb plot on cargo aircraft en-route to the U.S. last week.

"In a communiqué issued on jihadist forums on November 5, AQAP said that it kept quiet its activity behind the September incident, and questioned why the media did not attribute responsibility to them earlier. They rhetorically answered that it is perhaps because the Obama Administration wanted to hide the incident so as to conceal security failure before the US midterm elections," a report by the SITE stated.

The Yemen post also quoted a Jihadist website with a message, "We in the AQAP convey the good news and awaited surprise to the Muslim world that we succeeded to bring down a UPS plane on September 03, 2010 after takeoff from Dubai International Airport."

Adding further peril to the Obama administration the APAQ proudly announced, "We struck three blows to your aircraft within one year."

A UPS Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed at an air force base shortly after take-off from Dubai airport, killing two crew members on board in September. UAE officials maintained that the plane was diverted to the base after reporting trouble but then it hit a covered car park and burst into flames. Initial reports also suggested that a fire broke out in the plane just after it took off from Dubai international airport.

Last week, two packages containing explosives were also intercepted in Cargo aircraft. Saudi Arabia's intelligence apparatus alerted the officials in UK and Dubai that the packages were being shipped by air from Yemen to the United States. Security officials seized a package at the East Midlands airport, in Nottingham, on a flight from Cologne to Chicago. One of the packages was found on a United Parcel Service cargo plane and the other bomb was discovered in a parcel at a FedEx facility in Dubai.

In a recent interview to the state-run France 2 television France's interior minister stated that one of two mail bombs was defused just 17 minutes before it was to go off. The disclosure of the French minister was also contrary to the earlier remarks of the White House that the packages were intended to carry out attacks on synagogues in the United States. Analysts say that the incident could now spark a debate in U.S. media to see if the terror-plot was also being used as an election stunt.

Other's however, attribute it to a serious intelligence lapse. Speaking to the Al Jazeera, Ali Al Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington, stated that AQAP's claim of bombing the UPS airliner was a surprise.

"Nobody knew it was the work of al-Qaeda until they came forward with this statement. Even the CIA and regional intelligence services didn't know this was brought on by a bomb," he told the news channel.

The communiqué by APAQ also claimed that even after the successful attack, the group decided not to publish a statement about it in a hope to repeat their success by bring down more aircraft. The message also added that the group intends to circulate the idea of parcel bombs to all Mujahedeen in the world to use them against cargo and passenger airplanes.

In Washington and rest of the country, concerns and issues now await Obama, who is currently touring Asian countries. The United Arab Emirates aviation authority is said to have launched an investigations into AQAP's claims on the September crash.

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