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Suspicious Packages Probed as Possible Dry Run

Investigators are probing whether a string of suspicious packages was a dry run for a mail bomb blot, according to a U.S. official.

Intelligence and law enforcement officials discovered suspicious packages in England and Dubai late Thursday night, prompting national security officials to alert President Barack Obama to a "potential terrorist threat," the White House said.

The two packages were addressed to Chicago religious sites, Chicago FBI spokesman Ross Rise said. One was a synagogue, said a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

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Following news of the suspicious items, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced increased safety measures, including "heightened cargo screening and additional security at airports."

The packages contained a toner cartridge with attached wires and powder (see photo below). A source told CBS News that the cartridges found in Dubai and the U.K. also contained a syringe and cell phone components.

They were found during routine screenings of cargo, prompting authorities to scour three planes and a truck in the United States on Friday, U.S. officials said.

"The president directed U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and the Department of Homeland Security, to take steps to ensure the safety and security of the American people, and to determine whether these threats are a part of any additional terrorist plotting," the White House said in a statement.

The early focus of the investigation centers on Yemen. A Joint Terrorism Task Force source tells CBS News that investigators are looking for between 10-20 packages shipped out of the UPS office in Sanna, Yemen. Packages sent via FedEx have also been searched.

All of the packages, but not the planes, originated in Yemen.

Yemeni officials said they launched a terrorism investigation and Scotland Yard said its investigators were testing a number of items seized from the plane in East Midlands in the United Kingdom. In the U.S., searches were conducted in Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., and New York City.

No explosives have been found so far.

(CBS)