- The Washington Times - Friday, October 29, 2010

President Obama said Friday that U.S. officials “are taking all necessary and prudent steps” to thwart terrorist threats like the two explosive packages discovered in England and Dubai, both of which were traced to Yemen.

At the same time, the White House said the ongoing investigation would not derail Mr. Obama’s plans to travel to Charlottesville, Va., Friday night to stump for embattled Rep. Tom Perriello and to visit Philadelphia and Chicago ahead of election day.

In a brief mid-afternoon statement to the press, Mr. Obama confirmed that two suspicious packages contained what he called “explosive material,” constituting a “credible terrorist threat to our country.” He said counterterrorism adviser John Brennan kept him abreast of developments in the case, which led to additional screening of planes in Newark and Philadelphia.

” We will continue to pursue additional protective measures for as long as it takes to ensure the safety and security of our citizens,” Mr. Obama said. “I have also directed that we spare no effort in investigating the origins of these suspicious packages and their connection to any additional terrorist plotting.”

The two packages discovered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and at the East Midlands Airport in the United Kingdom were both from Yemen and addressed to Chicago-area synagogues.

White House officials did not formally blame al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but speculation surrounds the Yemen-based terrorist network, which was behind the failed attempt to detonate a bomb on a flight to Detroit last Christmas. Also speaking to reporters, Mr. Brennan described the group as “the most active operational franchise” in terms of terrorism.

Officials wouldn’t reveal many details of the incident, such as how powerful the explosives were or whether other suspicious packages thought to be containing explosives may still be in the system.

“The American people should know that the counterterrorism professionals are taking this threat very seriously and are taking all necessary and prudent steps to ensure our security,” Mr. Obama said. “And the American people should be confident that we will not waver in our resolve to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates and to root out violent extremism in all its forms.”

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters the president will continue to be briefed on the matter as he travels south to Mr. Perriello’s district. Mr. Gibbs said there is not yet reason for either the public or the president to alter their travel plans.

The Associated Press reported that shipping giant UPS announced plans to immediately suspend shipments out of Yemen. Mr. Brennan told reporters that the U.S. government is considering ways to step up security on shipments out of the country.

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