The US president's counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan said the fatal UPS mail cargo flight crash over Dubai on September 2 is to be re-examined to find out if it was not caused by an explosive package collected from Yemen. He disclosed this in an interview to CNN Sunday, Oct. 31. debkafile's counter-terror sources report that if this is what happened, US intelligence missed picking up on al Qaeda's air package plot for two months.
Brennan did not explain what led him to suspect the Sept. 3 crash was worth a second look, two days after two explosive packages from Yemen addressed to Chicago synagogues were discovered in the British East Midlands and Dubai only after a Saudi tipoff.
The explosive they contained was based on PETN. Our sources note that al Qaeda's chief bomb-making expert Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri failed last Christmas to blow up a Delta flight with the same PETN-based substance hidden in the underpants of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian extremist trained in Yemen. The powder caught fire just before the plane landed filling the cabin with smoke. Other passengers were alerted and put out the fire out before it detonated.
There was a similar incident in 2001 when "shoe bomber" Richard Reid failed to detonate the same PETN-based bomb aboard a flight coming in to land in Los Angeles and was overpowered by passengers.
Nine years later, on Sept. 3, the pilots of a UPS Boeing 747 signaled the Dubai control tower after takeoff that they were turning back because of a fire in the freight department. Their last message was that the cockpit was full of smoke and they were losing control, Moments later, the plane came down.
It is now suspected that the Boeing, which was only three years old, may have been blown up by an explosive package aboard. Dubai's aviation authority GCAA issued a statement denying "the presence of acoustic evidence or any forensic indication supporting the detonation of an explosive device." But they could not explain how the plane caught fire.
debkafile's sources stress that these incidents underline al Qaeda's habitual modus operandi. Even if it takes a decade, the planners of this terrorist organization will try time and again using the same methods to achieve its objectives, whether in the air or on the ground. The package found in Dubai Friday, Oct. 29, was shipped from Sanaa on board two separate Qatar Airways passenger flights, the airline confirmed Sunday.