BERLIN – The story of suspicious packages containing explosives found on board passenger and cargo aircraft from Yemen began in the United States on Friday, October 29. Today, Monday, November 1, explosive materials were found on two airfreight packages heading for Germany from Yemen. Germany has banned all cargo and passenger flights from Yemen, joining the US, Britain, and France in suspending all cargo flights from Yemen.
“The German air authorities have orders to turn back all direct and indirect flights from Yemen. That means that for the time being, there will be no flights to or over German territory allowed,” a Transport Ministry spokesman said.
“All Yemeni air companies that fly to Germany have received a flight ban,” the spokesman was quoted as saying by the media.
German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told journalists yesterday that airlines, cargo firms, and parcel services have been ordered to closely examine their complete cargo from Yemen in their warehouses, as well as those still arriving despite the ban.
This applies to all consignments from Yemen, which are either passing through or reloaded in this country, as well as the cargo transported within this country by road or by rail, he said.
He also confirmed that one of the two parcels from Yemen containing explosives found onboard a US-bound cargo aircraft was transhipped at the German city of Cologne, where the United Parcel Service (UPS) has its largest European hub.
The package containing an explosive device intercepted at East Midlands, in the UK had arrived at the Cologne airport onboard a cargo aircraft from the Yemeni capital of Sanaa and it was put on another cargo aircraft to East Midlands en route to New York via Philadelphia.
The German domestic intelligence service BND had received a tip off from a friendly intelligence service on Friday about a suspected package from Yemen and the security officials at the Cologne airport were immediately alerted, but it was too late to stop the lethal consignment.
Subsequently, the UK intelligence service was informed and this led to the interception of the package at the East Midlands airport, de Maiziere said.
A second package containing explosive materials sent through the US cargo company FedEx from Yemen, was reportedly flown on board Qatar Airways passenger planes from Sanaa to Doha, Qatar and from there to Dubai, where it was intercepted by the UAE authorities.
de Maiziere said the unsuccessful attempts to blow up aircraft in mid-air or to explode the devices at their destinations “exposes a dangerous gap in global counter-terrorism efforts.”
The incidents has raised fears of a new terror offensive by al Quaeda in Europe and in the United States.