U.S. top official says cargo plot has "hallmarks of al-Qaeda"

10:27, October 31, 2010      

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U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said on Saturday that the cargo terror plot discovered in Dubai and Britain has the "hallmarks of al- Qaeda."

"We know that the perpetrators of this -- and it has the hallmarks of al-Qaeda, the AQAP -- they are constantly trying things to test our system," Napolitano said in an interview with CNN, referring to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The failed terror plot, in which two suspicious packages were found Thursday night on cargo planes originated from Yemen and destined for the United States, has spurred security scare across the Atlantic.

Napolitano's statement came in line with that of other top U.S. officials who are increasingly confident that al-Qaeda was behind the plot, even though they stressed investigation is still underway and no final conclusion can be drawn at this point.

"We know that al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, the terrorist group based in Yemen, continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies," U.S. president Barack Obama said Friday in a special press conference.

The AQAP was responsible for the failed terrorist attack on Christmas Day last year, when a Nigerian man tried to bomb a U.S.- bound airliner.

A Yemeni senior security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Xinhua on Friday that initial investigation showed that the AQAP was behind the suspected packages found on the flights from Yemen to U.S..

U.S. security officials have indicated that Saudi Arabia has provided critical tip-offs in discovering this potentially disastrous plot, without touching upon details of the intelligence.

"The United Sates is grateful to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their assistance in developing information that helped underscore the imminence of the threat emanating from Yemen," John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-Terrorism said in a statement Friday.

"What happened is you have great information sharing from the Saudis," Napolitano said in the interview with CNN. "We were immediately able to work across the globe to get these packages segregated."

When asked about whether the U.S. would have known about the plot had it not been for the Saudis, she said, "We certainly got the heads-up from the Saudis."

"I don't want to go into other intelligence," she said. "That would be inappropriate. I don't play the 'what if' game. What if the Saudis hadn't told us? We share information. We share information like this across the globe. The ability for passengers to travel safely is a global issue and all countries of the world need to be involved here."



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