Two explosive-stuffed packages sent from Yemen and addressed to two Chicago-area synagogues look like the work of al Qaida or its affiliate al Qaeda, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Saturday.
Two packages containing explosives — sent to Chicago addresses — were intercepted in London and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, late Thursday.
According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, authorities did not release addresses, but a source familiar with the investigation said the targeted congregations were in the East Rogers Park and Lakeview neighborhoods.
The source indicated that the targeted Jewish congregation in Lakeview may have been using the facilities of a Unitarian church.
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The Rev. Adam Robersmith, who works at the Second Unitarian Church in Lakeview, said the Jewish Congregation Or Chadash last used the church facilities for its worship services several years ago. The congregation — which serves gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews — has since moved to Edgewater, where it shares space with Emanuel Congregation.
Rabbi Michael Zedek of Emanuel Congregation said Or Chadash has been sharing space in its building for about seven years. He said an official in Chicago’s Jewish community called him late Friday afternoon about the suspicious packages allegedly bound for the city.
“(The official) said, ‘I’ve got some good news and some bad news,’” Zedek said. “‘The good news is that your congregation was not one (of the targets); the bad news is that Or Chadash was.’”
Zedek said he immediately sent the rabbi of Or Chadash an e-mail. The two spoke over the phone and then addressed their congregations later Friday, said Zedek.
Robin Sampliner, immediate past president of Or Chadash, said she was stunned when she heard the news. Sampliner said Or Chadash has about 100 members.
“I heard that the packages were intended for Chicago, but it didn’t even occur to me that our small congregation would be a target,” she said….
…A possible East Rogers Park target could not be verified. Some directories of synagogues in Chicago still list two in the neighborhood. But the last operating synagogue in East Rogers Park closed in 2002.
Intelligence sources say that the Saudis were instrumental in intercepting the packages—a fact that reveals the tisted, complicated relationships that make up the war on terror.