Hawaii Reacts to terrorist threat

Rabbi Peter Schaktman
Rabbi Peter Schaktman

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The government has intercepted explosive packages sent through UPS.  President Obama confirmed today that Al Qaeda sent explosives from Yemen to Jewish synagogues in Chicago that were meant to cause bodily harm.

Investigators checked three cargo planes in Philadelphia and Newark, New Jersey today after a toner cartridge with wires and powder was spotted inside a cargo plane in England.

Two explosive packages were found and there could have been as many as 20 packages sent in the threat from Yemen.

The scare has sparked action here in Hawaii with the local homeland security district.

"We alerted our people and want to let them know about the pieces and hopefully none of them come here," said Doug Aton, Homeland Security, Honolulu District, San Francisco Division.

Machines already check envelopes for things like anthrax at the main postal station at the Honolulu International Airport.  Postal employees screen also packages visually using the SLAP acronym, looking at the shape, look, address and packaging.  Some Middle East countries are an automatic red flag.

"I'm not meaning to be offensive but anything obviously from that part of the world is going to be looked at a little closer," said Aton.

Companies like Aloha Air Cargo work with UPS and FedEx, but say by the time their packages reach Hawaii for interisland delivery they've already been screened.

Authorities have been responsive in the wake of the terrorist plot. Some FBI agents have already stopped by the local Jewish Temple to talk with the leadership directly.

"The FBI and local police have always been good about staying in touch with us when things like this occur.  The two FBI agents did stop by our office. They spoke with our executive director and wanted to establish a point of contact and reassure us that there was no threat to the State of Hawaii which they were aware," said Rabbi Peter Schaktman, Temple Emanu-El.

Still the Temple will continue to inspect packages carefully.

"Sadly that's something we have to be careful of all the time we can't wait simply for it to be in the news, we're always wary of any packages that come that don't have clear senders or has some suspicion. I think our concerns are minimal but they're always there and we always have to protect our premises and the people who work here," said Rabbi Schaktman.

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