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Parcel bomb was due to explode over East Coast of U.S., British police say

One of two package bombs from Yemen intercepted last month would have detonated Oct. 29 over the eastern seaboard if it had not been removed from a cargo plane in England, Scotland Yard says.

November 10, 2010|By Ken Dilanian, Tribune Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — One of the bombs hidden last month in two U.S.-bound packages from Yemen was timed to explode over the East Coast of the United States, British authorities said Wednesday.

Al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing claimed responsibility for sending two parcel bombs concealed in computer printer cartridges that were intercepted Oct. 29 at airports in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and East Midlands, England.

Both package bombs were addressed to Jewish groups in Chicago, though officials have said they believe both devices were intended to detonate in flight.

The bomb removed from a cargo plane at East Midlands Airport, north of London, would have activated at 10:30 a.m. British time on Oct. 29, Scotland Yard said in a statement. That would have been 5:30 a.m. in New York.

"If the device had not been removed from the aircraft, the activation could have occurred over the eastern seaboard of the U.S.," the statement said.

The bomb was defused by explosives officers less than three hours before it was set to explode, British police said.

French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said last week that one of the two parcel bombs was defused just 17 minutes before it was due to explode, but Scotland Yard said it could not confirm that.

Also Wednesday, U.S. authorities announced that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was not behind the Sept. 3 crash of a UPS cargo plane in Dubai, as the Yemeni branch had claimed.

"The available information continues to indicate that the crash was an accident," said a U.S. official familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly about it.

Authorities said the crash of the UPS plane shortly after takeoff was caused by an onboard fire. Investigators reviewed the incident again after last month's parcel bomb plot was foiled but found nothing to change their initial conclusion.

ken.dilanian@latimes.com

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