« Reflections on Osama bin Laden, and his continuing relevance | Main | Saudis suspend mediation as Taliban refuse to cut ties with al Qaeda »




AQAP claims parcel plot, downing of UPS flight



Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula recently released a statement on jihadist forums taking credit for the recent parcel bomb plot. Interestingly enough, AQAP also claimed it detonated a UPS plane over Dubai on Sept. 3, and accused the Obama administration of hiding the attack. From the AQAP statement, which was obtained by LWJ:

We ask: Why did the enemy not clarify what had happened with the UPS plane that was downed? Is it because the enemy had not discovered the cause for the fall of the airplane, or because the Obama administration wanted to hide the incident so that their security failure would not be revealed, especially because the operation was just before the American midterm elections?

We say to Obama: We have directed three strikes at your planes within one year [the third attack being the failed "underpants bomb" over Detriot on Christmas Day, 2009], and we will continue, by the grace of God, to direct our strikes against American interests and the interests of her allies.

AQAP's statement also provides some clever propaganda. The terror group claims that it intended to both blow up the UPS/FedEx planes in flight and detonate the packages as they arrived at the offices of Jewish groups in the US. And, the group argues, because the Saudis intervened in foiling the plot, they are complicit in aiding the Jews:

By the grace of God, our advanced package explosive granted us the opportunity to detonate it in the air or after arrival to its final target. It was designed to cross all detectors. We say to the Saudi family: God has revealed your collaboration with the Jews, for those packages were bound for Jewish Zionist synagogues. You interfered, with your treachery, to protect them. May the curse of God be upon the oppressors.


READER COMMENTS: "AQAP claims parcel plot, downing of UPS flight"

Posted by kp at November 6, 2010 1:22 PM ET:

Bill:

Quote: "We have directed three strikes at your planes within one year [the third attack being the failed "underpants bomb" over Detrior on Christmas Day, 2009],"

Or you could interpret this as three parcel bombs: one found in the UK; one found in the UAE; and the claimed bomb on the UPS flight that went down.

Otherwise what is the "third attack"?: underpants bomb, parcel bombs (as a group) and what?

AQAP also discovered that (despite their claim of a coverup) that downing a cargo plane isn't much of a propaganda coup. Was it a accident? Are they responsible or not? There is still some ambiguity. The UAE is still saying the UPS jet didn't go down because of a bomb but because of a fire (another faulty AQAP detonator?) and then crashed on landing. The flight recorders apparently don't indicate anything consistent with an explosion. So it could still be AQAP but the bomb failed to go bang.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40039737/ns/us_news-airliner_security

The final comment seems to indicate that the packages really were meant to go off in the US (a bigger coup than downing parcel carrying aircraft, IMHO). But the addresses were out of date so either they did plan that (and screwed up) or they used false addresses (for packages that were supposed to blow up? Odd).

Did they have cellphone detonators? Yes, but not SIM cards so no remote detonation. Barometric detonators (or arming) as used in Pan Am attack to make sure an aircraft is hit). Or Timers/Alarms (this seems to be the least useful but the most likely). The French claimed that one was defused 17 minutes. The US and UK seem to be denying that.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40003726/ns/us_news-airliner_security/40018357

As these were also difficult to detect it also seems that this would have been an ideal way to supply PETN or similar explosives to operatives in the USA for more precise targeting. They didn't apparently do that(I'm sure the FBI is following up on this). Does AQAP have any operatives in the USA they can trust to use this stuff? Apparently not?

Easy fix: turn off outgoing parcel airmail to terrorist related states (including Pakistan when needed) until they fix their problem. That will make life a bit more awkward for the bombers. They then would need to smuggle out bombs to adjacent countries and send them by airmail/package carriers. The UK has already extended it's screening program.

The real solution though is to ramp up the attacks int he Yemen targeting this group. They have now attacked the West on four different occasions (Cole, Fort Hood, underpants bomb, and this set of parcel bombs). They are a direct threat and this needs to be made clear to the Yemen government. Unfortunately they see out interactions with Pakistan and draw their own conclusions.

Posted by Charu at November 7, 2010 1:59 PM ET:

Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen are the terrorist triad today and we have failed in rooting out AQ from here because they are all failed states. Yemen is in Saudi Arabia's backyard, and they should be actively clearing out AQ from there. However, just as with the Pakistani leadership who sympathize with the Taliban and use them as an arm of their misguided strategic policies, the Saudis have tried to have it both ways. The root of this threat to global civilization lies with Saudi money and ideology dangerously coupled with the Pakistani muscle and operational ability. Take away Saudi money and/or the Pakistani military's ability to operate and the threat will be contained. Unfortunately our strategy is to play footsie with both centers, which only prolongs the inevitable; that is if we aren't bled dry first.