NBC News and msnbc.com
updated 10/30/2010 5:57:29 PM ET 2010-10-30T21:57:29

The discovery of a plot to send package bombs from Yemen to the United States has prompted investigators to take another look into the crash of a cargo plane in Dubai last month, NBC News reported Saturday.

On Sept. 3, a UPS plane crashed shortly after take off from Dubai International Airport, killing two crew members. Some reports at the time said a fire had broken out in the Boing 747-400 just after it took off.

"People are obviously taking another hard look at why that plane went down, but no hard conclusions have been reached yet," NBC News quoted a U.S. official as saying.

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Authorities in the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates will presumably investigate whether the crash 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 U.K. airport.

Security officials said the bomb packages were addressed to a Jewish community center and synagogue in Chicago.

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

"It seems like common sense now and clearly there are similarities between the crash and this latest incident."

Killed in the crash were Capt. Doug Lampe, 48, of Louisville, Ky., and First Officer Matthew Bell, 38, of Sanford, Fla.

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The cargo plane was en route to the UPS hub in Cologne, Germany, when it went down in an unpopulated desert area.

The cause of the crash has not been determined.

UAE investigators have said the crew faced radio problems and smoke in the cockpit as they struggled to maintain altitude.

Atlanta-based UPS, the world's largest shipping company, dispatched an investigation team to the scene. Boeing Co., the plane's maker, and the National Transportation Safety Board also sent teams to help with the probe.

NBC's Richard Engel contributed to this story.

Video: Under threat, Yemen strains to control land

  1. Transcript of: Under threat, Yemen strains to control land

    LESTER HOLT, anchor: Even before this incident, the rise of al-Qaeda in Yemen has been a source of increasing concern among American intelligence officials. As our chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel now reports, it's a concern shared by Yemen 's overburdened government.

    RICHARD ENGEL reporting: The big problem with Yemen is that it cannot control all of its territory. Yemen is a traditional, largely tribal society. What most people may not know is that Yemen 's government is pro-American. NBC News was taken by the government earlier this year to see its counterterrorism forces who are trained with American cooperation. Yemen has often asked for more American help as it deals not only with active al-Qaeda cells, but two domestic wars. In northern Yemen there's a conflict with Shiite rebels. In the south, another with a group that wants to break away. In areas where the government has little or no control, al-Qaeda has set up an aggressive franchise. There was the attack on the USS Cole off Yemen in 2000 . Last Christmas , the plot to crash an airliner in Detroit came from Yemen .

    Mr. ANWAR Al-AWLAKI:

    ENGEL: And then there's this man, Anwar al-Awlaki , an American living in Yemen who's believed to have inspired the shooter at Fort Hood . Al-Qaeda even produces its first online English-language magazine from Yemen called Inspire . With articles like how to "Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom," the magazine calls on supporters to launch as many attacks as possible, arguing that even if they fail, they create publicity, disruption and economic loss.

    Mr. EVAN KOHLMANN (NBC News Terrorism Analyst): Al-Qaeda at this point understands that it doesn't need to carry out successful terrorist attacks to have impact that it's looking for.

    ENGEL: While there are al-Qaeda cells all over the world , Lemen -- Yemen -- Lester , the US officials are particularly concerned about the one in Yemen because of its clear desire to carry out an attack inside the

    United States. Lester: Hey, Richard , I want to ask you, there was a UPS 747 freighter that crashed in Dubai about a month ago. It was presumed an accident, there was smoke reported in the cockpit, I think it killed both of the pilots. Is anyone going back now and thinking maybe there's some red flags that have been raised in the -- in that crash?

    HOLT: Yes. NBC News has learned -- this is a very interesting story. There was a crash in September, a cargo plane, a reported fire onboard, and the crew was killed. We were told that US officials and Emirati officials are now going back, taking a harder look at that crash in the light of these attempted bombs that were sent to the United States , but that so far no conclusions have been drawn.

    ENGEL: Richard Engel with us here in New York tonight. Richard ,

    HOLT:

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