10:50AM EST: Authorities are investigating a suspicious package found on a UPS plane that arrived at Philadelphia International Airport Friday.
A crew member arriving on a UPS flight from Paris notified authorities of a suspicious package on board describing a potential radiological component, a local CBS affiliate reported.
Philadelphia police and firefighters greeted the inbound flight shortly after 9 a.m. and the two occupants exited the aircraft, the station reported.
A second UPS flight, which was due to take off from Philadelphia, was also isolated in the investigation, local station WPVI reported.
Department of Homeland Security is investigating the incident with help from local police and the FBI, a source at the airport said.
UPS said in a statement that its “cooperating with authorities to investigate a suspicious package that arrived in Philadelphia.”
Operations at the airport are not affected and all flights are taking off and landing as scheduled, the airport reported.
UPDATE 11:00AM EST From CBS News: Local and federal authorities are investigating a suspicious package aboard a UPS plane that landed at Philadelphia International Airport at about 9 a.m. from Paris, France. The second plane, from Cologne, Germany, was isolated near the UPS terminal. The plane from Germany landed in Philadelphia at about 8 a.m. and was scheduled to depart at 10:30 a.m. for Louisville, Kentucky.
Authorities say the incident began when a crew member aboard the plane from Paris notified authorities on approach about a suspicious package. The crew member described a possible radiological component to the package.
The two crew members safely exited the aircraft after landing in a remote area of the airport.
Airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica says Philadelphia police and other agencies are with the plane at a remote part of the airport. She referred all other questions to the Department of Homeland Security.
Authorities have not said if the incidents are related. Both remain under investigation.
Operations at the airport have not been affected. No delays are reported.
Sources say UPS planes in Newark, New Jersey and Queens have also been isolated.
UPDATE 11:02AM EST: The NYPD Bomb Squad is operating at the scene of a suspicious package on a UPS truck in Queens. The location is 15-15 Queens Plaza North.
UPDATE 11:08AM EST From MyFoxNY: Police cars have surrounded a UPS plane that landed this morning at Newark Liberty International Airport. Live video from SkyFoxHD shows about a dozen emergency vehicles on the scene in Newark. There are unconfirmed reports that the plane had arrived from Yemen.
UPDATE 11:22AM EST: The NYPD Bomb Squad has just been called to a suspicious package on a UPS truck in Brooklyn. The location is 4 Metrotech Center, and the truck is on the loading dock.
UPDATE 11:33AM EST From WALB: Officials said a suspicious toner cartridge also was found on a cargo plane that landed in London on a flight originating in Yemen and bound for Chicago. However, tests for explosive materials were negative.
UPDATE 11:41AM EST: Fox News TV Network just quoted a UPS Spokesperson which said that the aircraft in Newark Airport has been cleared.
UPDATE 11:51AM EST From BBC: Emergency services were called in the United Kingdom to East Midlands Airport (Donington) at about 3:30BST and evacuated a distribution center. The area was reopened just before 10:00BST but a cordon was re-imposed just before 14:00 BST so the package could be re-examined “as a precaution”. A police spokesman said: “The package is being re-examined as a precaution and as such the cordons that were originally put in place have been reinstated as a precaution.
UPDATE 11:53AM EST: Fox News reports that the “Distribution Center” in the UK, is in fact a UPS facility.
UPDATE 12:58PM EST: The Chicago Tribune headline currently (at 12:55PM EST) reads “Devices Intended For Chicago Synagogues”. Click HERE for an image of the front page of the Tribune.
UPDATE 1:11PM EST: Police determined a suspicious package found on a UPS truck at Metro Tech Center, a business center in Brooklyn, did not contain anything harmful, a law enforcement official said.
UPDATE 1:15PM EST From Reuters: “”We were notified this morning that synagogues should be on the alert,” Linda Haase, associate vice president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, told Reuters. “We are taking appropriate precautions and are advising local synagogues to do likewise.”
“Unfortunately this isn’t the first time we’ve had to deal with security issues so we are all too familiar with this,” she added.
UPDATE 1:17PM EST: Statement of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
Last night, intelligence and law enforcement agencies discovered potential suspicious packages on two planes in transit to the United States. 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 London 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.
The President was notified of a potential terrorist threat on Thursday night at 10:30, by John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism. The President directed U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security, to take steps to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and to determine whether these threats are a part of any additional terrorist plotting. The President has received regular updates from his national security team since he was alerted to the threat.
UPDATE 1:22PM EST: Rep. Peter King speaking on Fox News confirms that the devices have originated from Yemen, and Al Qaeda is high on the suspect list. He was unable to speak further due to sensitive information.
UPDATE 1:27PM EST From CNN: A “number” of suspicious packages have been found in England, a British security source tells CNN. All were sent from the same person in Yemen through UPS and had American destinations. The nature of the addresses is described as “extremely sensitive.” In the last 24 hours, security officials received a tip from an unnamed ally that packages coming from Yemen were destined for synagogues in Chicago, Illinois, according to information given to CNN.
UPDATE 1:31PM EST: FedEx embargoes all shipments originating from Yemen.
UPDATE 1:47PM EST: A spokesman for FedEx says that Friday morning, authorities in the United Arab Emirates confiscated a suspicious package at the Fedex processing facility in Dubai. The package had originated in Yemen. “We have embargoed all shipments originating from Yemen. The company is cooperating fully with the authorities on this matter,” Fedex spokesman Maury Lane said.
UPDATE 1:54PM EST: Two suspicious packages found on cargo flights from the Middle East were addressed to religious institutions in Chicago, the FBI said today. “All churches, synagogues and mosques in the Chicago area should be vigilant for any unsolicited or unexpected packages, especially those originating from overseas locations,” the FBI said.
UPDATE 2:00PM EST: The US Department Of Homeland Security just released the following statement: “As a precaution, DHS has taken a number of steps to enhance security. Some of these security measures will be visible while others will not. The public may recognize specific enhancements including heightened cargo screening and additional security at airports. Passengers should continue to expect an unpredictable mix of security layers that include explosives trace detection, advanced imaging technology, canine teams and pat downs, among others. As always, we remind the public to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity to local law enforcement.”
UPDATE 3:32PM EST From NBC New York: Two U.S. F-15 fighter jets are escorting a civilain aircraft to JFK Airport this afternoon as a precaution. Canadian fighter jets first met the plane over Canadian airspace and then passed the escort over to U.S. fighters as it trasitioned into U.S. airspace.
UPDATE 3:38PM EST From CNN: A law enforcement source says that the flight being escorted is Emirates 201. The flight originated in Sanaa, Yemen, yesterday and is en route from Dubai to JFK, according to Emirates Airline. The FBI and Port Authority Police are scheduled to meet the fight, FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko said. “This is only because there is cargo from Yemen on the flight. There is no known threat associated with this cargo or this flight,” he said.
UPDATE 3:40PM EST: Click HERE to see a CNN exclusive photo of the device found in England.
UPDATE 3:47PM EST: The flight to JFK has just landed safely at the airport.
UPDATE 5:03PM EST: The suspicious packages found on two cargo flights in Britain and Dubai “do apparently contain explosive material,” President Obama told the nation Friday afternoon. The packages originating from Yemen were addressed to places of Jewish worship in Chicago. The president said in a televised address to the nation that the Yemeni government is cooperating with the U.S. in investigating the source of the packages, and helping with efforts to dismantle Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. The al-Qaida affiliate continues to plan attacks against the United States, its citizens and allies, Mr. Obama said.
(Yehuda Drudgestein – YWN World Headquarters NYC)