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Second Suspicious Package Found in Philadelphia Mailbox

Aired May 14, 2002 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we'll break away from Ari Fleischer. We have split our screen to allow you the viewer to watch what's happening in Philadelphia. As we continue to collect more information, essentially an item near a mailbox Tuesday treated as a possible bomb turned out to be a pair of sneakers. Also a note containing the words free Palestine.

Kelli Arena is with us also in Washington with us.

What more information are you getting through your sources, FBI and elsewhere?

KELLI ARENA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you are right. The package that was found earlier today was a false alarm. It was not a bomb. It was thought that it could be, because as you know, yesterday, there was a bomb found in Philadelphia in a mail container box that did go off after it was -- they were trying to detonate it, and it did go off, but no one was hurt or harmed, but everyone on edge a bit today in Philly.

What is happening right now is that investigators believe that something may have been put inside this mailbox, and so they are X- raying to figure out if there is anything harmful. The earlier package that was suspicious is a false alarm. Now they are making sure there is nothing in the box at this point that can be harmful. The bomb that was placed in a mail container yesterday did have, I am told by investigators, items inside it, that were described as shrapnel, that when the bomb did explode, a shot as many as 100 feet away. There are no clues as to who placed that bomb in the mailbox.

The package, which was a styrofoam container, did not have any address. It did not have any postage. It had have words, as we reported earlier, free Palestine, and it also had words, Al Qaeda written on it. But All Qaeda was misspelled. I'm told it was a very bad guess. So investigators do not believe that that was terrorist network was involved in any way. This also does not fit the pattern that Al Qaeda bombers use. That's what we know as this point, Bill.

HEMMER: A couple questions here, I am not sure what you can answer at this point. Is there any similarity between the package discovered today and yesterday, other than that note. Were they constructed in similar ways, do we know?

ARENA: I do not believe so, Bill. Everyone, as I said, is very much on edge in Philadelphia right now. There was in fact a bomb found, and it wasn't your usual bomb found in a mailbox. Usually postal employees come across pipe bombs or bombs in soda bottles with carbonites in there, so this was -- it was described to me as a very unusual bomb. The level of sophistication, I was told, on a scale of one to 10, they rated it about a 6, which means that it couldn't have been a kid that put it together, but it wasn't necessarily someone who had great expertise, but someone may have pulled some information off the Internet and was able to construct something.

So there is some concern. All of postal employees have been told since 9/11, but obviously, again, heightened security in Philadelphia today, considering yesterday's happening, that to be aware and to look at anything suspicious, so that anything that comes across that looks suspicious will be investigated today, Bill.

HEMMER: A six puts is slightly above average, I guess on that meter between one and 10.

Kelly, we mentioned northeastern Philadelphia for the situation today.

Jonathan Aiken, who grew up around that area, informs me it's suburban, about seven, eight miles northeast of the city. Relative to yesterday, how far are we in terms of locating the packages?

ARENA: I do not know, Bill.

HEMMER: All right. Northeastern Philadelphia.

Kelly, if you get more, certainly let us know. But, as you mentioned, they are taking precautions right now, despite the fact that as we reported earlier, that it could have been a false alarm, it is a fall alarm today, relative to the story yesterday. Al Qaeda also misspelled, as Kelli Arena pointed out.

And we're waiting. As soon as we get more information out of Philadelphia, we'll certainly pass it along.

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