By Arun Kumar
Washington, Oct 30 (IANS) US President Barack Obama called the discovery of some suspicious packages with "explosive material" as "a credible threat against our country," but officials considered it unlikely to affect his trip to India next week.
"Whenever the President travels, we take a very careful look at what the threat environment might be and look at what the terrorist environment is," White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan told reporters Friday.
"So we're taking this into account, but at this point there is no effect," he said at a White House briefing on discovery of suspicious packages in at least two locations abroad that were bound for Jewish organizations in the United States.
Asked if New Delhi had been briefed as India is the first stop on his four-nation swing through Asia, Brennan said: "We share on a regular basis with the Indian government. The Indian government is one of our best counter terrorism partners."
The packages led to increased searches of cargo planes and trucks in several US cities, CNN said citing law enforcement sources with detailed knowledge of the investigation.
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 the United Kingdom, 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 United States, "specifically two places of Jewish worship in Chicago," Obama said.
"Initial examination of those packages has determined they do apparently contain explosive material," he said assuring the nation counterterrorism officials are taking the threat "very seriously."
Brennan said that "the materials that were found and the device that was discovered were intended to do harm."
Brennan, while declining to provide specifics, also said intelligence officials were specifically looking for such suspicious packages when the first discovery-the package in the United Kingdom-was made.