US tightens security at foreign airports

2014-07-03 07:28
(Scott Heppell, AP)

(Scott Heppell, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - US intelligence officials are concerned about a new al-Qaeda effort to create a bomb that would go undetected through airport security, a counterterrorism official said, prompting the US to call for tighter security measures at some foreign airports.

The counterterrorism official, who would not be named because he was not authorised to discuss the matter publicly, declined on Wednesday to describe the kind of information that triggered the warning. But officials in the past have raised concerns about non-metallic explosives being surgically implanted inside a traveller's body, designed to be undetectable in pat-downs or metal detectors.

The US has been planning for additional measures for the past month, a counterterrorism official said, adding there was no immediate threat that led to the announcement by the Homeland Security Department that it was requesting tighter security abroad.

Bomb makers

American intelligence has picked up indications that bomb makers from al-Qaeda's Yemen affiliate have travelled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaeda affiliate there. The groups are working to perfect an explosive device that could foil airport security, according to the counterterrorism official.

Americans and others from the West have travelled to Syria over the past year to join al-Nusra Front's fight against the Syrian government. The fear is that fighters with a US or Western passport - and therefore subject to less stringent security screening - could carry such a bomb onto an American plane.

Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen, called al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, long has been fixated on bringing down airplanes with hidden explosives. It was behind failed and thwarted plots involving suicide bombers with explosives designed to hide inside underwear and explosives hidden inside printer cartridges shipped on cargo planes.

It wasn't clear which airports were affected by the extra security measures, but industry data show that more than 250 foreign airports offer nonstop service to the US, including Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and the United Arab Emirates' Dubai International Airport.

Not connected to Iraq violence

The call for increased security was not connected to Iraq or the recent violence there, said a second US counterterrorism official who was not authorised to speak publicly by name. Another US official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the increased security measures had nothing to do with the upcoming July Fourth holiday or any specific threat.

The extra security is out of an "abundance of caution," the US official said.

"People should not overreact to it or over-speculate about what's going on, but there clearly are concerns centred around aviation security that we need to be vigilant about," Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said late on Wednesday on MSNBC.

Algeria

Meanwhile, the State Department has instructed US embassy employees in Algeria to avoid US-owned or operated hotels through July 4 and the Algerian Independence Day on July 5.

"As of June 2014 an unspecified terrorist group may have been considering attacks in Algiers, possibly in the vicinity of a US-branded hotel," according to the message from the US embassy in Algeria.

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki did not provide details about the reasons for the increased security.

"I would say broadly speaking that the threat of foreign fighters is a concern that we share with many counterparts in the world, whether that's European or others in the Western world, where we've seen an increase in foreign fighters who have travelled to Syria and other countries in the region and returning," Psaki said. "And so we have been discussing a range of steps we can take in a coordinated fashion for some time."

The US shared "recent and relevant" information with foreign allies, Johnson said in a statement. "Aviation security includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, informed by an evolving environment."

Southwest Airlines, which along with subsidiary AirTran Airways, flies between the US and Mexico and the Caribbean, doesn't expect the directive to have much impact on its operations, spokesperson Chris Mainz said. He said the focus likely would be in other parts of the world, although the airline's security personnel have been contacted by the Homeland Security Department. Mainz declined to comment on those discussions.

American Airlines spokesperson Joshua Freed said the company has been in contact with Homeland Security about the new requirements but declined to comment further.


- AP
Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  us  |  security
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!

Nothing, and we mean nothing, will keep goalkeeper Scott Stirling from stopping the ball!

 
 

Men24.com

Hottie of the day: Jesselyn
This invention makes farts smell like chocolate!
11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Grandiose ideas and plans can trip you up today. Keep things in context and take one step at a time....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.