Updated: Chicago Shuls on Alert After Suspicious Devices Found On Planes


fbiUpdated: Two suspicious packages found on cargo flights from the Middle East were addressed to religious institutions in Chicago, the FBI said today. “All churches, synagogues and mosques in the

┬áChicago area should be vigilant for any unsolicited or unexpected packages, especially those originating from overseas locations,” the FBI said.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Chicago said it had advised local shuls to be on alert.

The package contained a toner cartridge with wires and powder, prompting authorities to search several flights that had landed at U.S. airports.

A spokeswoman for the federation said it had received a warning this morning from unnamed “authorities.”

“We were told that synagogues should be on the alert,” the spokeswoman said, adding that the federation was “taking appropriate precautions” and was “advising our local synagogues to do likewise.”

She declined to comment on the nature of the threat or what precautions were necessary.

CNN reported that sources believe explosives were intended for Chicago shuls. Frances Fragos Townsend, former Homeland Security adviser in the Bush administration, said American intelligence had been informed within the last 24 hours about devices on flights from the Middle East intended for shuls in Chicago.

Citing sources, the network reported that intelligence officials believe al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was responsible for the plot.

The package that sparked alarm about cargo arriving into the United States had white powder all over it as well as wires and a circuit card attached, a law-enforcement source said. It came from Sana, Yemen and was bound for Chicago, the source said.

Planes in Philadelphia and Newark, N.J., were being swept.

Investigators were examining two similar packages – one on a plane in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, and another in East Midlands, in the United Kingdom.

Officials were investigating whether the suspicious packages were a dry run for a mail bomb plot.

The Chicago Department of Aviation said it had received no alerts from the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, the FBI or the Chicago Police Department.

During a basic security screening process in the United Kingdom, officials found a suspicious item on the cargo plane, according to a U.S. government official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation, the Associated Press reported.

The White House issued a statement saying intelligence and law enforcement agencies “discovered potential suspicious packages on two planes in transit to the United States.”

“Based on close cooperation among U.S. government agencies and with our foreign allies and partners, authorities were able to identify and examine two suspicious packages, one in East Midlands, United Kingdom, and one in Dubai,” the statement continued. “Both of these packages originated from Yemen. As a result of security precautions triggered by this threat, the additional measures were taken regarding the flights at Newark Liberty and Philadelphia International Airports.”

President Barack Obama was notified for the potential threat at 10:30 p.m. Thursday and “directed U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security, to take steps to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and to determine whether these threats are a part of any additional terrorist plotting,” the statement said.

U.K. officials discovered that a toner cartridge on the plane had been manipulated and found wires attached to it and white powder. Tests on the device came back negative for explosives, according to a law enforcement official who also spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.

Concerns about the possibility of similar and potentially dangerous devices shipped elsewhere prompted officials to check other cargo planes headed to the U.S.

In a statement, TSA said it was aware of and monitoring reports of potentially suspicious items onboard cargo flights that landed safely at Newark Liberty and Philadelphia International airports. “Out of an abundance of caution the planes were moved to a remote location where they are being met by law enforcement officials and swept,” the statement said. The Philadelphia jet belonged to UPS. A source with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak said officials New York were examining a UPS package.

In New York City, police responded to reports of a possible explosive in a UPS truck at the Queensboro Bridge, top NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. Browne said the package was removed and was being examined in Brooklyn.

Atlanta-based United Parcel Service Inc. said it was working closely with authorities.

Police evacuated a freight distribution building at East Midlands Airport in central England after a suspicious package was reported at 3:30 a.m. Police and emergency workers examined the package and lifted the security cordon by mid-morning, but Leicestershire Constabulary later said officers were re-examining it “as a precaution.”

Sarah Furbank, a passenger who was about to board a plane out of East Midlands Airport, said that she had noticed an increased security presence.

There were “quite a few police cars round the edge” of the airport, Furbank told The Associated Press. “Apparently there was an incident earlier according to staff but they didn’t go into

{CNN/Chicago Sun Times/Chicago Tribune/Chicago Breaking News/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. Stupid political correctness – mosques and churches need to be warned too. How long will the idiocy go on? Mosques are SENDING the bombs, not receiving them.

  2. Just a few minutes ago, at about 4:30 PM New York Time, 1:30 Pacific Time, regular televison programming was interrupted for a broadcast of a special emergency speech by President Obama on this situation. In the speech, the tone of his voice was that of abhorrant anger. He mentioned a couple of times that Jewish institutions were targeted. He further exclaimed that the FBI and other law enforcement was seriously working to ensure the protection of all citizens and that our nation will earnestly continue the fight to defeat al-Qaida (Yimach Shemo V’Zichro) in its war of terror it is pushing on us.

  3. You don’t think terrorists target mosques as well? Have you listened to any of the news about what goes on in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan? Sure they target mosques! They don’t care. Whoever doesn’t abide by their extreme version of Islam is a target.