This article originally appeared in Global Security Newswire, produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group whose mission is preventing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
Interpol chief Ronald Noble on Tuesday said al-Qaida and associated organizations continue to pose the greatest threat to global security even after the death of longtime leader Osama bin Laden, Reuters reported.
"Even before bin Laden was captured and killed, the biggest threat was not only al-Qaida but al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist groups around the world," the secretary general for the International Criminal Police Organization said to journalists at an aviation conference in Singapore. "I think that remains the biggest threat now as it was before his death."
Passenger airlines and other modes of mass transportation face the greatest terrorist threat, Noble said.
"The airline and air industry continues to be a prime target for terrorists, but we've seen from recovered intelligence, etc., that they are also focusing a lot on mass transit," he said. "But airlines continue to be a special target."
Computer files and documents seized by U.S. special forces during their raid last month on the bin Laden compound in Pakistan revealed the terrorist leader had encouraged his followers to develop attack plans on U.S. targets similar to the September 11 assaults in style and scope.
The Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has also been linked to the attempted 2009 Christmas Day bombing of an airliner as it prepared to land in Detroit, as well as the 2010 attempt to hide explosives in printer cartridges loaded onto cargo aircraft.
Of significant concern is the use of pilfered or misplaced passports and the failure by many nations to cross-check passengers' identifying documents with a database of passports that have been reported lost, Noble said.
"One out of every two international air arrivals is not being screened. That's almost half a billion each year not being screened," Noble said.
"We know if terrorists can move from country to country without being detected, that's a risk to all countries, and from Interpol's perspective that is a number one risk affecting all countries throughout the world," he added.