Suspicious packages intercepted on way to Chicago

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. law enforcement has warned Jewish groups to be on the lookout for packages mailed from overseas in the wake of suspicious packages addressed to Jewish institutions in Chicago.

The Associated Press quoted President Obama as saying Friday that the packages found on planes headed for the United States constituted a "credible terrorist threat" and had been addressed to Jewish organizations in the Chicago area.

In an earlier statement, the White House said the packages were discovered on two planes in transit.

"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," the statement said. "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 Anti-Defamation League issued a nationwide alert, based on warnings from law enforcement officials.

"There is a reported threat to Jewish institutions in the form of packages mailed from overseas, particularly Great Britain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia," it said. "In light of the reported threat, the League has sent out a notice to U.S. Jewish communal institutions across the country to increase mailroom security and to contact law enforcement immediately if they see anything suspicious."

Queries should be directed to the FBI, the alert said. 

The Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago also issued an alert.

"The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago has alerted area synagogues not to open packages that appear suspicious due to the way they are wrapped, or which come from Yemen or from any organization that has the name ‘Yemen’ in it," it said.  "Any institution that receives such a package is advised to call “911” and to evacuate the premises until law enforcement arrives."

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