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Al-Qaida claims responsibility for cargo bombs

The Yemeni branch of al-Qaida on Friday claimed responsibility for the two mail bombs sent from Yemen last week, and for the  downing of a UPS cargo plane in Dubai in early September.
Image: A DHL worker checks parcels at Sanaa International Airport
A DHL worker checks parcels at Sana'a International Airport in Yemen on Friday. Aviation security has been tightened after two U.S.-bound bombs sent in air cargo from Yemen were intercepted in Dubai and Britain. Khaled Abdullah / Reuters
/ Source: NBC, and news services

The Yemeni branch of al-Qaida on Friday claimed responsibility for the two mail bombs sent from Yemen last week and for the downing of a cargo plane in Dubai in September.

A week after authorities intercepted cargo packages in Dubai and the United Kingdom that were bound for the U.S., Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula issued a message Friday saying it will continue to strike American interests.

Both mail bombs were wired to detonators that used cell phone technology.

U.S. officials have said all week that there were strong indications the bomb plot originated with AQAP, a terror group that has been gathering strength and increasingly triggering attacks on Western targets.

In a message posted on Islamist Internet forums, the group also said it was responsible for the crash of a UPS cargo plane in Dubai on Sept. 3, though U.S. officials discount that claim, according to NBC News.

"We dropped down the jet that belonged to the American Company UPS, but the media of the enemy did not attribute the work to us as we were secretive about the operation in order to do it again, and this time we did this with two devices; one of them sent through UPS and the other through Fedex; both American companies," according to an NBC News translation of the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula statement.

AQAP's statement also blamed Saudi Arabia for tipping off security services and allowing them to intercept the bombs, addressed to two Chicago synagogues.

"Allah has scandalized their cooperation with the Jews as these devices were headed to Jewish Zionist temples, but you interfered in your betrayal to protect them, so may Allah's damnation be upon the oppressors," it said.

"The group also threatened more terror attacks.

"And we say to Obama: We pointed three attacks to your planes within one year, and we will continue, Allah-willing, to direct our attacks on the American interests and the interests of America's allies," the statement said.

U.S. officials have said that authorities have found no evidence that the crash of the Boeing 747-400 was caused by a bomb. Investigators still don't know what caused the fire that erupted on the plane's main cargo deck.

Two crew members died when the cargo plane, which was en route to Cologne, Germany, crashed in a military compound near Dubai's airport after the pilot reported fire and smoke in the cockpit.

A security official told The Associated Press on Friday that there is no change in earlier findings that the UPS crash was likely caused by an onboard fire and not by an explosive device.

“There are very strong indications that AQAP was responsible for plotting last week’s disrupted cargo plane plot, but we can’t confirm at this point their claims about the early September incident," a U.S. counterterrorism official, who asked not to be named, told NBC News.

"Even though their latest terrorist operation was thwarted by solid intelligence efforts, the group remains a serious threat, and our government is working hard — in conjunction with foreign partners—to help take these extremists off the battlefield,” the official said.