Washington: US President Barack Obama thanked British and Saudi leaders for helping foil a bid to send explosive-laden packages to the US, but pressed Yemen for more cooperation in battling the militants behind the plot.
Obama telephoned both British Prime Minister David Cameron and Saudi King Abdullah on Saturday, a day after authorities in Britain and the Middle East found explosive parcels shipped via cargo planes from Yemen and addressed to synagogues in Chicago.
“The president expressed his strong appreciation for the critical role played by Saudi counterterrorism officials in averting this attempted attack,” the White House said about Obama’s call to King Abdullah.
The kingdom earlier had been praised by US officials including homeland security secretary Janet Napolitano for providing tip-offs that helped thwart the plan.
Obama also phoned Cameron “to discuss the terrorist plot that was disrupted,” the White House added.
Obama told Cameron that his top counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan was regularly speaking with his British counterpart “as we work together to prevent and disrupt future efforts to attack our citizens.”
The plot was linked by US officials Saturday to the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula.
Brennan appeared to lean heavily on Yemen on Saturday, calling the country’s president for the second time in two days and reiterating a US call for “close” counterterrorism cooperation in the wake of the disrupted bomb plot.
In the call to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Obama’s advisor “underscored the importance of close counterterrorism cooperation, including the need to work together on the ongoing investigation into the events over the past few days,” the White House said.
He also “emphasized that the US stands ready to assist the Yemeni government and the Yemeni people in their fight against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” it said in a statement.
Just hours after Brennan’s call, Yemeni security forces arrested a woman suspected of sending the two parcel bombs at her home in the capital, Sanaa.
The discovery of a suspicious package from Yemen on a cargo plane in central England, and another one in Dubai, sparked a global security alert Friday.
Obama said the bombs represented a “credible terrorist threat,” and Napolitano said the plot bore the “hallmarks of Al-Qaeda.”
On Saturday, British home secretary Theresa May said the package found at East Midlands “was viable and could have exploded” and brought down a plane.
In the decade since the bombing of the USS Cole as it refueled in Aden in 2000, Yemen has morphed into a haven for violent extremists, becoming the headquarters of AQAP and the hiding place for US-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi, who has been linked to high-profile terror plots in the US.