herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Airports on alert after US bomb scare

HOPES that airport security measures may be eased in Europe have been dashed after the discovery of two explosive packages.

Terrorists are being hunted over a plot to bomb targets in Chicago -- uncovered by the interception in Britain and Dubai of explosives hidden in computer printer cartridges.

President Barack Obama vowed they would spare no effort to find the source of the packages -- from Yemen -- which he called a "credible terrorist threat" aimed at two places of Jewish worship.



QUEUES

Mr Obama said security would be increased for air travel for as long as necessary. The finds are sure to cause longer queues for air travellers here.

Earlier this week British Airways chairman Martin Brough-ton suggested that some parts of the security programme were now "completely redundant".

Mr Broughton added that there was no need to "kowtow to the Americans every time they wanted something done".

But his call for travellers to be spared from having to take off their shoes at airport security are sure to go unheeded now.

US officials are searching for more packages from Yemen, which has become a haven for anti-American militants. They were found at East Midlands Airport, England, and in Dubai in cargo heading for America.

The security threat unsettled Americans just days before they vote in midterm congressional elections that have been dominated by economic woes rather than the issue of terrorism.

Suspicion fell on al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula, which operates out of Yemen and claimed responsibility for a failed plot to blow up a US plane over Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009. "Initial examinations of those packages has determined that they do apparently contain explosive material," President Obama said.

The packages are understood to have contained PETN, the same chemical explosive used in the bomb sewn into the underwear of the Nigerian man who attempted to blow up an airliner over Detroit at Christmas, a plot hatched in Yemen.



SHIPMENT

The improvised devices contained computer printer cartridges filled with the explosive. One used a cell phone as a detonator, the other a timer.

The White House said "both of these packages originated from Yemen" and Obama. UPS and FedEx, the world's largest cargo airline, said they were halting shipments from Yemen.

hnews@herald.ie

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