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Local Jewish community on alert after threat from abroad

Updated: December 14, 2010 11:48AM

Members of the Chicago-area Jewish community are on high alert this weekend after it was announced Friday that two packages bound for Chicago from Yemen apparently contained explosive materials. The packages were apparently bound for Jewish synagogues in the Chicago area.

President Obama said the American public should be confident in the government’s counterterror efforts.

Rabbi Samuel Mann of Temple B’nai Israel in Aurora said local Jews should feel confident as well.

“We’ve always had proper security features in place,” Mann said Friday addressing the recent threat. “With this in the news, and the target being the Chicago area, we are on even more high alert.”

According to a CNN report, law enforcement sources said they were acting on a tip in the last 24 hours from an unnamed “ally” that cargo coming from Yemen were headed for Chicago synagogues.

It was not immediately known which institutions may have been targeted.

On Thursday, intelligence and law enforcement agencies discovered potential suspicious packages on two planes bound for the U.S. — one in London and one in Dubai, according to a statement from the White House.. Both packages came from Yemen.

The discoveries led to heightened inspection of arriving cargo flights in Newark, New Jersey and Philadelphia, as well as a UPS truck in New York.

U.S. officials believe that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is behind the plot.

Chicago FBI spokesman Ross Rice said that there are no “identifiable or specific threats to the Chicago area.”

“Since two of the suspicious packages that were intercepted were addressed to religious institutions in Chicago, all churches, synagogues and mosques in the Chicago area should be vigilant for any unsolicited or unexpected packages, especially those originating from overseas locations.”

Rabbi Mann said that just because he lives in a smaller community he is not immune to outside terrorist threat.

“Terrorists are adaptive... they can make their point in multiple smaller communities, not just large, concentrated populations,” he said. “We’re going to be more aware of our surroundings... it just shows that this is a constant threat.”

Sun-Times Media contributed to this story.

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