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Yemen Arrests Parcel Bomb Suspect

U.S. law-enforcement officials and bomb-squad officers surround a UPS cargo plane as the plane and its contents are searched in Newark on October 29, 2010
Security officials in Yemen say a female medical student suspected of sending two explosives packages en route to the United States was arrested on October 30 in a house in the capital, Sanaa.

The woman was traced through a mobile phone number left with a cargo company. Security forces also detained her mother.

The explosives, believed to be powerful enough to take down airplanes, were intercepted on two U.S.-bound cargo jets in Dubai and the U.K. on October 29. The parcels were addressed to synagogues near Chicago.

The Search Continues

A wider search is under way to apprehend more suspects connected to the plot, officials in Yemen say. According to U.S. and British media reports, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, an Al-Qaeda explosives expert, is the authorities' prime suspect. The 28-year-old Saudi-born bomb maker is reportedly based in Yemen.

Investigators are also examining 26 other seized packages. Two language institutions in Yemen are also under investigation for possible connections with the conspirators in the failed bombing attempt.

The local offices of the U.S. cargo firms UPS and FedEx in Yemen have been closed down by authorities. The two firms have already suspended shipments out of the country and pledge full cooperation with ongoing investigations.

Officials in the United States, Yemen, and elsewhere are finding increasing connections between the failed plot and the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he suspects the involvement of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) -- the Yemen-based branch of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

The AQAP has its stronghold in the remote Shabwa Province in the south of the impoverished country.

Britain, America Look To Yemen For Support

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the explosive device discovered at an airport in central England was intended to detonate on the plane.

"A package that started in Yemen, that landed in Germany, that landed in Britain en route to America, it just shows how united and determined we have to be to defeat terrorism," Cameron said.

He also noted that he has spoken with both Obama and Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh about further coordinating measures in order to "cut out the cancer of Al-Qaeda in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula."

Cameron said packages coming to or through Britain from Yemen have been banned for the time being.

The Yemeni President said the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates had provided Yemeni security services with the information that helped to identify the young woman, the suspect behind the two parcel bombs.

Saleh said Yemen would continue fighting Al-Qaeda "in cooperation with its partners." He added, however, that Yemen does not want "anyone to interfere in Yemeni affairs by hunting down Al-Qaeda" inside the country.

The AQAP has claimed responsibility for the failed bombing attempt in the U.S. on Christmas Day last year.

An industrial explosive known as PETN, which was used in the failed bomb last Christmas, was also discovered in the parcel bombs found on October 29.

with agency reports