Monday: Bombs Were Built to Explode in Flight; 52 Killed in Baghdad Siege

BY Tom LeGro  November 1, 2010 at 9:44 AM EST

Yemeni security outside UPS branch

Yemeni security guard a UPS branch in Sanaa. Photo by Mohammad Huwais/AFP/Getty Images.

President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, said that the two package bombs addressed to Chicago synagogues and intercepted by authorities in Britain and Dubai last week appear to have been built to bring down the planes carrying them.

Speaking Sunday on the CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Brennan said, “At this point we, I think, would agree with the British that it looks as though they were designed to be detonated in flight.”

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

U.S. intelligence officials believe the suspected bombmaker is a 28-year-old Saudi named Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, thought to be in Yemen, the Associated Press reports.

On Sunday, Yemeni police released a 22-year-old woman they had arrested the previous day on suspicion of mailing the two bombs, the Washington Post reports. Officials said someone might have assumed the identity of the woman, a computer engineering student at Sanaa University.

The BBC reports Monday that the tip-off that led to the discovery of parcel bombs came from a “repentant” al-Qaeda member. Citing British officials, the BBC reports that Jaber al-Faifi handed himself into authorities in Saudi Arabia two weeks ago.

Writing in Foreign Policy, Gregory D. Johnsen says that the United States has been ignoring Yemen at our own peril:

“Neither approach — full invasion or surgical strikes — will solve the problem of al-Qaeda terrorism in Yemen and make America safer. The United States and its allies have been lucky three times in just over a year. Counting on that luck holding is not a safe bet.”

52 Killed in Baghdad Siege

Iraqi security forces stormed a Baghdad church where militants had taken a Christian congregation hostage for four hours, leaving at least 52 people dead, Iraqi officials said Monday, the AP reports. It was not clear whether the hostages died at the hands of the attackers or during the rescue.

ITN has this report:

Parcel Bomb Addressed to French President Sarkozy

According to reports Monday morning by the Associated Press and Reuters, Greek police said it had intercepted a booby-trapped parcel addressed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy after another package exploded at a courier company in Athens.

“One of the explosive devices that the suspects were carrying was addressed to the President of the French Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy,” a police spokesman told Reuters.

Other parcels were addressed to the embassies of Belgium, Netherlands and Mexico.

“Police believes there is no link with al-Qaeda. We are still investigating,” the spokesman said, adding that two men were arrested who were suspected to be linked to a Greek leftist guerrilla group.

Indonesian Volcano Erupts Again

Indonesia’s Mount Merapi volcano erupted on Monday for the third time in a week, driving the number of refugees to almost 70,000, reports Reuters, while the death toll from the tsunami rose to 431, officials said.

Roussef Wins Brazilian Presidential Election

Dilma Roussef will be the first woman president of Brazil after defeating her centrist rival Jose Serra on Sunday night, 56 percent to 44 percent in a runoff election. A former Marxist guerrilla who was jailed and tortured for three years in the early 1970s for fighting against Brazil’s dictatorship, Roussef takes office Jan. 1.