Dubai printer bomb was flown on passenger plane


One of the two bombs posted from Yemen last week was transported on two passenger planes before being seized in Dubai, Qatar Airways said today.

A spokesman for the airline said the package arrived in Qatar Airways’ hub in Doha, Qatar on a flight from the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

It was then shipped on a separate plane to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where it was discovered by authorities. The package contained explosives hidden in a printer cartridge and was headed for the US.

Students protested in Yemen today against the arrest of a colleague suspected of an attempt to blow up cargo planes bound for the US.

Governments, airlines and aviation authorities around the world are reviewing security after two parcel bombs sent from Yemen were intercepted on planes in Dubai and Britain on Friday.

The bombs had all the hallmarks of al-Qaeda, US officials say. Yemeni police arrested the woman, believed to be in her 20s, after tracing her through a telephone number she left with a cargo company.

The student and her mother were the first people to be arrested in connection to the foiled bomb plot.

Dozens of students staged a sit-in in the courtyard of Sanaa University's engineering faculty calling for her release.

"I don't think anyone would carry out a major operation like this and leave behind their real contact details ... I think she's the victim of a conspiracy," student Muhammad al-Bazili said.

A Saudi bombmaker believed to be working with al Qaeda's Yemen-based wing is a key suspect, a US official said.

Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who tops a Saudi Arabian terrorism list, is the brother of a suicide bomber killed in a bid last year to assassinate Saudi counter-terrorism chief Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

That attack, as well as another attempt on a US-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009, involved the use of pentaerythritol trinitrate (PETN) - a highly potent explosive that appears to be the weapon of choice of al Qaeda's Yemeni branch, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

At least one of the two US-bound devices sent from Yemen addressed to synagogues in Chicago employed PETN, the US official said.

"The individual who has been making these bombs ... is a very dangerous individual, clearly somebody who has a fair amount of training and experience. And we need to find him. We need to bring him to justice as soon as we can," White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan told ABC News.

"I think the indications are right now based on the forensics analysis that it's an individual who has been responsible for putting these devices together, the same." US drone aircraft are widely believed to be behind strikes against al Qaeda targets in Yemen, much as they are in Pakistan, although Washington does not acknowledge them.

Yemeni officials worry an overt US military presence could attract a backlash. Governments around the world are now scrambling to reassess security and close any loopholes that allowed the bombs through.

British home scretary Theresa May said security around all international air cargo arriving in Britain was being reviewed.

"We are looking at the screening of freight. We will be looking at the processes we use. We'll be talking with the (aviation) industry about these issues," she said.