In a joint action with Britain, France, and the US, Germany has stopped all freight packages from Yemen. On Friday, authorities discovered explosives in two packages being sent from Yemen to synagogues in the US.
This explosive printer cartridge never reached Chicago
The German government announced on Sunday that it had stopped all inbound freight deliveries from Yemen, after parcel bombs bound for US synagogues were intercepted from two passenger planes earlier in the week.
"The German government has ordered a stop to freight to Germany from Yemen until further notice," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told German public radio. "This is a joint action with the United States, Great Britain, and France."
Airlines, freight forwarders and couriers have been ordered to closely examine every consignment originating from Yemen which either arrives despite the ban or which is already being held in storage en route to its destination.
Germany's postal service, Deutsche Post - which is also the parent of Germany's global courier giant DHL - said it was already running special checks on all incoming parcels from Yemen.
Yemen police on Sunday released a university student arrested the day before on suspicion of having links to the two parcels containing explosives found on US-bound flights. One package was intercepted at Britain's East Midlands Airport, and another at a freight center in Dubai. They were bound for two synagogues in Chicago.
Mid East visit postponed
Germany's interior minister is needed closer to home for now
The German Interior Minister has also called off his planned trip to the Middle East for the time being. De Maiziere had been scheduled to attend a conference on homeland security in Tel Aviv, hold talks with Israeli investors, and discuss the ground-breaking prospect of four new, German-financed police stations in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
"Our security boss needs to stay at the helm," a spokesman for the interior ministry told reporters, saying that the continuing investigation into the bomb plot would force the interior minister to stay on German soil.
"They have agreed to reschedule the trip to a date as soon as possible," de Maiziere's aide continued.
The German interior minister also explained that Berlin alerted Great Britain to the parcel bomb threat after a tip off from a "friendly intelligence agency," widely believed to be Saudi Arabia.
Speaking in Dresden, de Maiziere said German authorities received the tip between late Thursday and early Friday that explosives were inside a US-bound parcel. Germany's federal crime office, the BKA, then discovered the package's consignment number and notified the British authorities.
Bombs touched down in Germany
Authorities were too late to nab the explosives in Germany
The intelligence came in too late, however, to intercept the explosives while they were on German soil. Authorities confirmed on Saturday that the package went through Cologne/Bonn Airport en route to East Midlands Airport, north of London.
By the time the authorities had identified the offending package, they were too late to stop it taking off from the Western German airport.
"It was already on the way to Britain," a BKA spokeswoman said. "We managed to inform our partners in London so that they were able to look specifically for the package and find it."
"We are taking this situation very seriously, even though it seems that Germany was not the target of the attack," Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said of the incident, announcing an investigation into whether there are gaps in the policing of air freight security.
An alleged bombmaker from Saudi Arabia emerged as the key suspect behind the parcel bombs, a US official said on Sunday.
Author: Mark Hallam (apn, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Andreas Illmer