UK & World News

  • 2 July 2014, 22:16

US Increases Security At Overseas Airports

The United States is implementing "enhanced security measures" at overseas airports with direct flights to the country, officials have announced.

US officials told Reuters the move comes amid fresh fears that al Qaeda operatives in Syria and Yemen are developing bombs that could be smuggled onto US-bound flights from European airports.

In a statement, Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson said: "DHS continually assesses the global threat environment and reevaluates the measures we take to promote aviation security.

"As part of this ongoing process, I have directed TSA (Transportation Security Administration) to implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States."

Mr Johnson did not specify which airports would be subject to the added security measures.

He said the US is "sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry".

Britain's Department of Transport said in a statement following the US announcement that it had "taken the decision to step up some of our aviation security measures".

The statement said: "The majority of passengers should not experience significant disruption. There will be no change to the threat level, which remains at substantial.

"The safety and security of the public is our paramount concern. The UK has some of the most robust aviation security measures and we will continue to take all the steps necessary to ensure that public safety is maintained."

The enhancements are likely to include added scrutiny of US-bound passengers' electronics and footwear, and installation of additional bomb-detection machines, US law enforcement and security officials told Reuters.

A US counter-terrorism official told the AP news agency that American intelligence indicated certain terrorist groups are working on a bomb that could make it through airport security undetected.

ABC News has reported that the explosives these operatives are attempting to build include non-metallic bombs.

US national security sources say bomb-makers from the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, and Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) are believed to be working together to develop the devices.

AQAP was behind the failed "underwear bomber" plot on Christmas Day 2009.

Sky News US correspondent Dominic Waghorn said American officials were also closely monitoring the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) over concerns that its success in Iraq might help it recruit jihadists from Europe, who would have easier access to flights bound for US cities.

The thousands of foreign jihadists flocking to join ISIS, among them an estimated four hundred from Britain, is a serious concern, he said.

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