Friday, July 4, 2014

United States: TSA Enhances Passenger Screening to Counter New Aviation Threat

According to Reuters, commercial aircraft and general aviation pilots with direct flights to the US have been urged to tighten screening of mobile phones and shoes in response to intelligence reports of increased threats from al-Qaeda-affiliated groups, US officials said on Thursday (July 3).

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is tasked with enforcing all airport security screening at US airports.

The officials singled out smartphones, including iPhones manufactured by Apple and Galaxy phones for extra security checks on US-bound direct flights from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

US security officials said they fear that IED-makers from the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have determined how to convert certain smartphones into IEDs that can circumvent detection.

Airlines or airport operators that fail to enhance screening could face bans on flights entering the United States, the officials said.

COMMENT: NOTE: If you are departing from a major airport that normally suffers from major backlogs in security screening lines, I would suggest that you arrive at the airport 30 minutes earlier than normal, just to ensure you don't miss your flight.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Wednesday (July 2) plans to step up security checks, but they offered few details as to how airlines and airports will implement them.

Officials said most passengers taking long-distance flights arrive well in advance of scheduled departures, leaving time for extra screening, but said the US could not rule out disruptions in countries where airport infrastructure and security procedures are less sophisticated. 

US security agencies fear bombmakers from AQAP and the Islamist Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, are collaborating on plots to attack US or European-bound jetliners with IEDs concealed on foreign fighters carrying Western passports, the officials said.