United States President Barack Obama has said there is a 'credible terrorist threat' against America after two suspicious packages, containing explosives material, were found in cargo jets originating in Yemen with two Jewish centers in Chicago-area being their destinations.
There has been a 'credible terrorist threat against our country' Obama told reporters at a hurriedly convened White House press conference after he was briefed by his top intelligence officials and national security aid on the latest terrorist threat to the US. Obama was first informed about it at nearly 10.35 pm on Thursday and has been updated on the developing plot throughout.
The administration will not spare any efforts in investigating the origins of the suspicious package, he said. Obama said agencies have "identified two suspicious packages bound for the United States, specifically, two places of Jewish worship in Chicago." The packages were identified in Dubai and Britain, he said.
"Initial examination of those packages has determined that they do apparently contain explosive material," he said. In his statement, Obama vows to take "whatever steps are necessary to protect our citizens of this type of attack".
Noting that Americans should know that authorities are "taking this threat very seriously," Obama said, "The American people should be confident that we are not wavering in our resolve to root out violent extremism in all its forms."
The two packages have been identified and have been isolated, said National Security Advisor Tom Donilon. Both the packages originated in Yemen. "There were explosive material in both the packages, which was intended and designed to do harm," he said.
The US is looking at all possibilities on who could be behind the terrorist attack. Obama said the events of the last 24 hours underscore the necessity of remaining vigilant in the last 24 hours, coordinating with the friends and the allies. Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan said packages coming from Yemen would be carefully screened.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said counterterrorism adviser John Brennan spoke with Yemen's president on Saturday morning. "This is an active and ongoing investigation; we are working very closely with our partners in Yemen," Brennen said.
"As we continue with this investigation, we are trying to understand who is behind it, and trying to understand the scope of the threat," he said. "We are trying to make sure we understand any other threats that are out there. Making sure we are taking a close look at other packages that might have other material in them."
Obama directed the Department of Homeland Security and all it law enforcement and intelligence agencies to take "whatever steps are necessary to protect our citizens from this type of attack."
The Department of Homeland Security is also taking steps to enhance the safety of air travel, including additional cargo screening.
"We will continue to pursue additional protective measures for as long as it takes to ensure the safety and security of our citizens," he said. "I have also directed that we spare no effort in investigating the origins of these suspicious packages and their connection to any additional terrorist plotting".
"Although we are still pursuing all the facts, we do know that the packages originated in Yemen. We also know that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terrorist group based in Yemen, continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies," he said.
Obama said he will continue to strengthen America's cooperation with the Yemeni government to disrupt plotting by the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and to destroy this Al Qaeda affiliate.
"We will also continue our efforts to strengthen a more stable, secure and prosperous Yemen so that terrorist groups do not have the time and space they need to plan attacks from within its borders," he said. Obama said the events of the past 24 hours underscore the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism.
"As usual, our intelligence, law enforcement and Homeland Security professionals have served with extraordinary skill and resolve and with the commitment that their enormous responsibilities demand. We are also coordinating closely and effectively with our friends and our allies, who are essential to this fight," he said. PTI