From White House press secretary Robert Gibbs:
Last night, intelligence and law enforcement agencies discovered potential suspicious packages on two planes in transit to the United States. Based on close cooperation among U.S. government agencies and with our foreign allies and partners, authorities were able to identify and examine two suspicious packages, one in East Midlands, United Kingdom and one in Dubai. Both of these packages originated from Yemen. As a result of security precautions triggered by this threat, the additional measures were taken regarding the flights at Newark Liberty and Philadelphia International Airports.
The President was notified of a potential terrorist threat on Thursday night at 10:35, by John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism. The President directed U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security, to take steps to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and to determine whether these threats are a part of any additional terrorist plotting. The President has received regular updates from his national security team since he was alerted to the threat.
And here’s a statement from Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R., Mich.), ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, who reinforces early reports that the Yemeni packages were addressed to synagogues in the United States:
“The facts are still coming in, but the discovery of suspicious packages in the United Kingdom and Dubai reported to originate in Yemen and bound for the United States is extremely disturbing and only reinforces the continued serious nature of the threats that are being posed both directly and indirectly to the United States.
“In the past few days, we have also had two serious incidents in Hawaii and Virginia of home-grown terrorists who may have been inspired from Yemen by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, just like the tragic attack on American soldiers at Fort Hood. Al-Qaeda in Yemen has used the internet to release vicious propaganda that is attempting to radicalize Americans and incite the murder of Americans by Americans. And now, explosive packages reportedly have been sent from Yemen to synagogues in the United States, another clear sign of religious intolerance and hatred by the jihadists.
“We can’t minimize the nature of these threats or wish them away. The serious nature of this week’s incidents only underscores how critical it is to actively confront the threat at all of its sources. We must redouble our efforts to do so immediately or we will certainly pay even more serious consequences in the future.”
President Obama will be making a statement from the White House at 4:15, and will be joined by Brennan.