WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. law enforcement has warned Jewish institutions to be on the lookout for packages mailed from overseas after suspicous packages were intercepted abroad incoming cargo aircraft.
President Barack Obama announded late Friday that "a credible threat against our country" was found in form of explosive materials on flights that landed in Philadelphia from Paris and Cologne, Germany as well as one that laned in Newark. A third jet was diverted to New York on suspicion of carrying dangerous packages.
The Secure Communities Network organized by Jewish agencies was working with authorities to gain more information about the threats.
"The investigation is still ongoing, but it’s clear that there are still terrorists out there that mean us harm," said SCN director Paul Goldenberg.
Two planes that departed from Paris and Cologne, Germany landed at Philadelphia International Airport. Another touched down in Newark, N.J., while a passenger jet was diverted to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
"There is a reported threat to Jewish institutions in the form of packages mailed from overseas, particularly Great Britain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia," the Anti-Defamation League said in an alert Friday afternoon. "In light of the reported threat, the League has sent out a notice to U.S. Jewish communal institutions across the country to increase mailroom security and to contact law enforcement immediately if they see anything suspicious."
Queries should be directed to the FBI, the alert said.
"Last night, intelligence and law enforcement agencies discovered potential suspicious packages on two planes in transit to the United States," the White House said Friday. "Based on close cooperation among U.S. government agencies and with our foreign allies and partners, authorities were able to identify and examine two suspicious packages, one in East Midlands, United Kingdom and one in Dubai. Both of these packages originated from Yemen. As a result of security precautions triggered by this threat, the additional measures were taken regarding the flights at Newark Liberty and Philadelphia International Airports."
One such package was ultimately headed to Chicago, according to an alert by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. The president on Froday confirmed that the packages were addressed to "two places of Jewish worship in Chicago."
"The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago has alerted area synagogues not to open packages that appear suspicious due to the way they are wrapped, or which come from Yemen or from any organization that has the name ‘Yemen’ in it," it said. "Any institution that receives such a package is advised to call “911” and to evacuate the premises until law enforcement arrives."
Goldenberg said he was asked if people should be warned not to go to synagogues on Shabbat. "I told them people better go [to shul] because if we let them intefere with our way of life then, frankly, it’s mission accomplished," Goldenberg said.