Australia on alert after US terror threat

Last Updated: Sat, Oct 30, 2010 09:20 hrs

Melbourne, Oct 30 (IANS) The Australian aviation industry was Saturday asked to screen all in-bound cargo originating from Dubai and Doha after two suspicious packages bound for the US were found in Britain and Dubai, sparking a global terror threat.

There is no direct threat to Australia but transport authorities are on alert, after two suspicious packages sparked a global airport scare overnight, acting Prime Minister Wayne Swan was quoted as saying by AAP.

Intelligence and law enforcement officials discovered suspicious packages in Britain and Dubai prompting national security officials to alert US President Barack Obama to a 'potential terrorist threat', the White House said.

Swan said Australia's security agencies were working closely with their US counterparts in monitoring the situation, according to the Herald Sun.

'There's no information that Australia is a target,' he said. 'The office of transport security has issued a direction to the aviation industry that all in-bound cargo originating from Dubai and Doha must be screened.'

'That's an important precaution. There has been no direct threat made to Australia,' Swan added.

President Barack Obama called the discovery of the packages with 'explosive material' as 'a credible threat' against the US.

The packages led to increased searches of cargo planes and trucks in several US cities, CNN said citing law enforcement sources.

US officials believe that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, commonly referred to as AQAP, is behind the incident.

Obama confirmed that the packages originated in Yemen, the stronghold of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

'We also know that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula ... continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies,' he said during a press briefing on the incident.

One suspicious package, found in Britain, contained a 'manipulated' toner cartridge and had white powder on it as well as wires and a circuit board, CNN said citing a law enforcement source. A similar package was discovered in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, it said.

Both packages were bound for the US, 'specifically two places of Jewish worship in Chicago,' Obama said.