U.S. Worried Al-Qaida Has Bomb that Can Fool Airport Security

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
July 3, 2014, 7:44 a.m.

U.S. of­fi­cials are wor­ried that al-Qaida has de­veloped a new kind of bomb that can go un­detec­ted by air­port se­cur­ity, the Los Angeles Times re­ports.

In­tel­li­gence agen­cies re­cently found out that al-Qaida’s Ye­meni af­fil­i­ate, al-Qaida in the Ar­a­bi­an Pen­in­sula, has de­veloped a meth­od for smug­gling ex­plos­ives through air­port met­al de­tect­ors, body scan­ners and phys­ic­al pat-downs, two an­onym­ous U.S. coun­terter­ror­ism of­fi­cials told the news­pa­per in a Wed­nes­day art­icle.

The con­cern has promp­ted Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment head Jeh John­son to or­der the im­ple­ment­a­tion of “en­hanced se­cur­ity meas­ures” in the days ahead for U.S.-bound flights de­part­ing from Europe and the Middle East.

Of­fi­cials are re­portedly wor­ried that al-Qaida might re­cruit West­ern­ers that have been rad­ic­al­ized from their ex­per­i­ence fight­ing in the Syr­i­an civil war to smuggle the new type of bomb aboard a U.S.-bound pas­sen­ger flight. U.S. agen­cies do not have in­form­a­tion about any defin­it­ive plan to at­tack an air­liner.

The tightened se­cur­ity will go in­to ef­fect at 15 for­eign air­ports, uniden­ti­fied of­fi­cials told the New York Times. Home­land Se­cur­ity has shared some in­tel­li­gence and de­tails about the new se­cur­ity pro­to­cols with part­ner gov­ern­ments and air­line com­pan­ies.

Al-Qaida in the Ar­a­bi­an Pen­in­sula is un­der­stood to be more fo­cused than any oth­er for­eign ter­ror­ist group on car­ry­ing out dir­ect at­tacks on the U.S. home­land. The ji­hadist group thrice be­fore has at­temp­ted un­suc­cess­fully to bomb cargo and pas­sen­ger planes fly­ing to the United States. The or­gan­iz­a­tion’s head ex­plos­ives ex­pert, Ibrahim Has­san al-Asiri, is still at large and has in­struc­ted a num­ber of fol­low­ers in the art of bomb mak­ing, of­fi­cials said.

Some ana­lysts be­lieve that al-Qaida has a new in­cent­ive to carry out a high-pro­file at­tack on the United States or Europe in or­der to burn­ish its ji­hadist repu­ta­tion, fol­low­ing the re­cent suc­cesses of its ex­com­mu­nic­ated former fran­chise, the Is­lam­ic State of Ir­aq and Syr­ia, in seiz­ing con­trol of broad swaths of land.

In the United King­dom, the Brit­ish De­part­ment for Trans­port on Wed­nes­day an­nounced it it would “step up some of our avi­ation se­cur­ity meas­ures” in re­sponse to in­tel­li­gence warn­ings from the United States, the Lon­don Guard­i­an re­por­ted.

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