U.S. concerned about security at some foreign airports - New York News

U.S. concerned about security at some foreign airports

Posted: Updated:
By KEN DILANIAN and EILEEN SULLIVAN | AP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Intelligence officials are concerned about a new al-Qaida effort to create a bomb that would go undetected through airport security, a counterterrorism official said Wednesday, prompting the U.S. to call for tighter security measures at some foreign airports.

The counterterrorism official, who would not be named because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, declined to describe the kind of information that triggered this warning. But officials in the past have raised concerns about non-metallic explosives being surgically implanted inside a traveler's body, designed to be undetectable in pat-downs or metal detectors.

American intelligence has picked up indications that bomb makers from al-Qaida's Yemen affiliate have traveled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaida affiliate there. The groups are working to perfect an explosive device that could foil airport security, according to the counterterrorism official.

Americans and others from the West have traveled to Syria over the past year to join al Nusra Front's fight against the Syrian government. The fear is that fighters with a U.S. or Western passport — and therefore subject to less stringent security screening — could carry such a bomb onto an American plane.

Al-Qaida's affiliate in Yemen, called al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, long has been fixated on bringing down airplanes with hidden explosives. It was behind failed and thwarted plots involving suicide bombers with explosives designed to hide inside underwear and explosives hidden inside printer cartridges shipped on cargo planes.

The call for increased security was not connected to Iraq or the recent violence there, said a second U.S. counterterrorism official who was not authorized to speak publicly by name. Another U.S. official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the increased security measures had nothing to do with the upcoming July Fourth holiday or any specific threat.

The extra security is out of an "abundance of caution," the U.S. official said.

Meanwhile, the State Department has instructed U.S. Embassy employees in Algeria to avoid U.S.-owned or operated hotels through July 4 and the Algerian Independence Day on July 5.

"As of June 2014 an unspecified terrorist group may have been considering attacks in Algiers, possibly in the vicinity of a U.S.-branded hotel," according to the message from the U.S. Embassy in Algeria.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki did not provide details about the reasons for the increased security.

"I would say broadly speaking that the threat of foreign fighters is a concern that we share with many counterparts in the world, whether that's European or others in the Western world, where we've seen an increase in foreign fighters who have traveled to Syria and other countries in the region and returning," Psaki said. "And so we have been discussing a range of steps we can take in a coordinated fashion for some time."

The U.S. shared "recent and relevant" information with foreign allies, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. "Aviation security includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, informed by an evolving environment."

Southwest Airlines, which along with subsidiary AirTran Airways, flies between the U.S. and Mexico and the Caribbean, doesn't expect the directive to have much impact on its operations, spokesman Chris Mainz said. He said the focus likely would be in other parts of the world, although the airline's security personnel have been contacted by the Homeland Security Department. Mainz declined to comment on those discussions.

American Airlines spokesman Joshua Freed said the company has been in contact with Homeland Security about the new requirements but declined to comment further.

Associated Press writers Eric Tucker and Lara Jakes in Washington and David Koenig in Dallas contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Palestinian banner unfurled on Manhattan Bridge

    Palestinian banner unfurled on Manhattan Bridge

    Thursday, August 21 2014 7:14 AM EDT2014-08-21 11:14:27 GMT
    Pro-Palestinian activists marching along the Brooklyn Bridge got an eyeful when a giant flag banner in Palestinian colors was unfurled on the nearby Manhattan Bridge. The flag had the words "Boycott, Divest, Sanction" and was lowered from a part of the bridge near the Manhattan side Wednesday evening. Activists on the Brooklyn Bridge met its appearance with cheers.
    Pro-Palestinian activists marching along the Brooklyn Bridge got an eyeful when a giant flag banner in Palestinian colors was unfurled on the nearby Manhattan Bridge. The flag had the words "Boycott, Divest, Sanction" and was lowered from a part of the bridge near the Manhattan side Wednesday evening. Activists on the Brooklyn Bridge met its appearance with cheers.
  • Man punched in face in knockout assault

    Man punched in face in knockout assault

    Thursday, August 21 2014 6:55 AM EDT2014-08-21 10:55:16 GMT
    The so-called 'knockout game' where a person punches another unsuspecting person has made its way to Hackensack, New Jersey. Police say one assailant attacked three people all in the same day. Surveillance video shows the athletically built suspect punch a man in the face and stroll away. The man fell to the ground. Two other assaults took place within less than 15 minutes in the areas of Essex Street, Summit Avenue and Beech Street on Monday night.
    The so-called 'knockout game' where a person punches another unsuspecting person has made its way to Hackensack, New Jersey. Police say one assailant attacked three people all in the same day. Surveillance video shows the athletically built suspect punch a man in the face and stroll away. The man fell to the ground. Two other assaults took place within less than 15 minutes in the areas of Essex Street, Summit Avenue and Beech Street on Monday night.
  • Atlantic City police get body cameras

    Atlantic City police get body cameras

    Thursday, August 21 2014 6:36 AM EDT2014-08-21 10:36:31 GMT
    Atlantic City police officers have started wearing body cameras. About five officers a shift will be equipped with the devices, which record video and audio after an officer activates the device. The video is uploaded after the officer's shift ends.
    Atlantic City police officers have started wearing body cameras. About five officers a shift will be equipped with the devices, which record video and audio after an officer activates the device. The video is uploaded after the officer's shift ends.

Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices