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Bomb plot raises doubts over UPS plane crash

Terrorism expert tells Gulf News that authorities should consider the possibility that the crash of a UPS plane from Dubai in September was caused by an explosive device similar to the ones found on Friday

  • By Mick O'Reilly Deputy Managing Editor and Sara Janahi, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 October 31, 2010
  • Gulf News

US-bound air parcel
  • Image Credit: WAM
  • PETN, or Pentaerythritol tetranitrate, PETN, is the same substance used by two would-be bombers of US airliners.
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Dubai: Authorities need to consider the possibility that the crash on September 3 of a UPS cargo jet flying from Dubai was caused by an explosive device similar to the ones found on Friday at the FedEx facility at Dubai airport and on a UPS plane at a UK airport.

"I think it would be very prudent to connect the dots in this incident," Dr Max Abrahms, a leading terrorism expert in the United States, told Gulf News.

Radio 2: Dubai Police issue a statement. Malak Harb reports
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"It seems like common sense now and clearly there are similarities between the crash and this latest incident."

Both bombs found on Friday were addressed to synagogues in the Chicago area, contained PETN — a highly explosive material which could have brought down the planes. One bomb arrived on Thursday and had to remain at Dubai International Airport for 24 hours. Dubai Police received a tip-off via an international call.

Dubai Police Chief Lieutenant-General Dahi Khalfan Tamim said Dubai Police succeeded in detecting the package while security authorities charged with carrying out security tasks on Western cargo companies failed.

Dahi told Emirates TV that the UAE would announce the source of the packages "within the next 48 hours."

"The package arrived on Thursday and had to remain in the airport for 24 hours in what is known as a cooling series in order for the package to be searched," Saif Al Suwaidi, director of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) told Gulf News. "All packages receive extensive searching for security reasons."

Radio 2: Explosives found on US-bound plane. Malak Harb reports
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Suspicious packages

On Saturday night, a GCAA source said that the package which was discovered was shipped from Sana'a on a Qatar Airways plane heading to Doha and then forwarded from that flight to Dubai. In Sana'a on Saturday, security authorities were questioning airport and cargo staff and checking at least 26 other suspicious packages.

US security officials say the plot has all of the hallmarks of Al Qaida, with President Barack Obama's counter-terror chief John Brennan laying the blame on the Yemeni franchise.

Saudi intelligence sources tipped off US officials about the threat to air cargo from Yemen.

The bomb found inside a cargo plane at East Midlands Airport could have exploded, British Home Secretary Theresa May said, adding that if it had detonated, the explosion could have brought down the aircraft.

An Emirates spokesperson said that its flights are all operating normally, after a flight from Dubai landed at JFK International Airport on Friday afternoon with a precautionary fighter escort.

With inputs from Alice Johnson, Staff Reporter, Nasser Arrabyee, Correspondent, and agencies.

Gulf News