Yemen doubts its links to explosive packages

Obama

President Barack Obama delivers a statement at the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 29, 2010. Obama says US committed to disrupting al-Qaida in Yemen, stops short of tying group to bombs. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Airports Suspicious Packages

In this frame grab taken from WABC-TV video, passengers disembark an Emirates airliner into an awaiting bus at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Friday Oct. 29, 2010, after the plane was escorted from the Canadian border to New York City by two military fighter jets. U.S. officials said there is no known threat associated with the plane, but it was being escorted to JFK as a precautionary move. Authorities on Friday were investigating whether suspicious packages shipped aboard cargo planes from Yemen to the U.S. were part of a terrorist plot. (AP Photo/WABC-TV) MANDATORY CREDIT

The Yemeni government expressed astonishment Thursday at reports linking it to two explosive packages found on cargo planes bound for the U.S.
Authorities in Britain and Dubai seized two explosive packages addressed to Chicago area synagogues on cargo jets. They said the packages originated from Yemen carried by Fedex and UPS parcel services.
In a statement distributed to journalists and appearing on the official website, the government said there were no UPS cargo planes that had taken off from Yemen or any indirect or direct flights to British or American airports.
The statement warned against "rush decisions in a case as sensitive as this one and before investigations reveal the truth."
The government also promised an investigation into allegations that the packages had originated in Yemen.
The discovery of the packages has once more put the spotlight on the violence-wracked, poverty-stricken country on the Arabian Peninsula.
If the explosive devices shipped in cargo planes from Yemen are conclusively linked by investigators to the al-Qaida faction in Yemen, it could represent a new tactic by al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula.
The group previously has spawned plots against commercial U.S-bound flights and had a role in mass shootings in several American cities.
_In the past 18 months, the al-Qaida offshoot in Yemen has grown stronger, and its members have been implicated in several plots against U.S. targets, including the futile attack last Dec. 25 on an airliner landing in Detroit, Michigan.
_Next to Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is considered the most active al-Qaida threat to the United States and its Western allies, according to the Obama administration.
_The United States has reinforced its military and intelligence assistance to Yemen, including the potential addition of armed Predator drones to be operated by the CIA. The Pentagon is sending more than $150 million in military aid, including helicopters, planes and other equipment.
_There have been a number of airstrikes into Yemen that have taken out insurgent leaders, with either coordination from the United States or direct involvement, but officials will not talk about them.
_AQAP includes as many as 300 members or cells operating out of Yemen. A top leader is Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric who is believed to have helped plan the Dec. 25 attack and inspired other attacks, including the shooting massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, last year. He is on a U.S. government secret list of targets to be captured or killed.
_During the past year, the number of elite U.S. trainers moving in and out of Yemen has doubled, from 25 to about 50 now. And the U.S. forces are providing more complex instruction that combines tactical ground and air operations.
_Yemen is the poorest Arab country, with 45.2 percent living below the poverty line, according to the CIA factbook.