- Associated Press - Sunday, October 31, 2010

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Obama’s counterterrorism adviser said Sunday that authorities “have to presume” there might be more potential mail bombs like the ones pulled from planes in England and the United Arab Emirates.

The foiled plot “certainly bears the hallmark” of al Qaeda’s Yemen branch, known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and the terrorist group is “still at war with us, and we are very much at war with them,” John Brennan, the White Housde deputy national security adviser, said.

“We’re trying to get a better handle on what else may be out there,” he told NBC’s “Meet the Press” as he made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows representing the Obama administration in the wake of the latest terrorist scare. “We’re trying to understand better what we may be facing.”

Forensic analysis indicates that this bombmaker also constructed the devices used in the failed bombing on a Detroit-bound airliner last Christmas and the attack on Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism chief last year, Mr. Brennan said.

The person assembling these devices, he told ABC’s “This Week,” is “clearly somebody who has a fair amount of training and experience, and we need to find him, and we need to bring him to justice.” All three bombs contained the explosive PETN. U.S. intelligence officials believe the suspected bombmaker is a Saudi named Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri.

Mr. Brennan noted that because of the continuing threat, the world’s largest package delivery companies — FedEx and UPS — have suspended air freight from Yemen. Police in Yemen have arrested a young woman on suspicion of mailing the bombs. They also detained her mother.

While he said “we feel good” about the steps taken since the thwarted plot, “I think we have to presume there might be” additional bombs.

“They are a dangerous group. They are a determined group. They are still at war with us, and we are very much at war with them. They are going to try to identify vulnerabilities that might exist in the system,” he said.

He told CNN’s “State of the Union” that “it would be very imprudent … to presume that there are no others (packages) out there.”

Speaking about the Yemen branch, he said the United States “will destroy that organization as we are going to destroy the rest of al Qaeda.”

Mr. Brennan said authorities were trying to determine whether the planes were the intended targets. The packages with the explosives were addressed to Chicago-area synagogues.

He said the two bombs, powerful enough to bring down a plane, were “very sophisticated” in the way they were designed and concealed.

“They were self-contained. They were able to be detonated at a time of the terrorists’ choosing,” Mr. Brennan said.

He also said that in light of the bombs found Friday, the National Transportation Safety Board and terrorism investigators were re-examining the UPS cargo jet that crashed in Dubai in September.

Investigators in the United Arab Emirates said Sunday there was no evidence that an explosion caused that crash.

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