MIDDLE EAST: Foiled printer cartridge attacks aimed at global trade

In a detailed account of its failed parcel bomb plot last month, Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch said the operation – which it said cost US$4,200 to stage – was intended to disrupt global air cargo systems and reflected a new strategy of low-cost attacks designed to inflict broad economic damage. The group, Al Qaeda in […]


In a detailed account of its failed parcel bomb plot last month, Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch said the operation – which it said cost US$4,200 to stage – was intended to disrupt global air cargo systems and reflected a new strategy of low-cost attacks designed to inflict broad economic damage. The group, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, released to militant web sites a new edition of its English-language magazine devoted entirely to explaining the technology and tactics in the attack, in which toner cartridges packed with explosives were intercepted in Dubai and Britain. The attack failed as a result of a tip from Saudi intelligence, which provided the tracking numbers for the parcels, sent via United Parcel Service and FedEx. But the al-Qaida magazine said the fear, disruption and added security costs caused by the packages made the operation a success. The group also mocked the notion that the plot was a failure, writing that it will “without a doubt it cost America and other Western countries” billions of dollars in new security measures. The magazine also repeated a claim from the group that it was responsible for the September crash of a UPS freighter in Dubai that killed the two pilots. Investigators in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) concluded that the precrash fire was not caused by an explosion, and intelligence officials are sceptical about the Al Qaeda claim, noting that the group probably would have claimed it as a success at the time. Meanwhile, the top US military commander says al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen is a “serious” threat to the US and has become substantially more dangerous over the past two years. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he takes seriously al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s latest threat to carry out more inexpensive, small-scale attacks against American targets.