Flying today? Don’t read this

Just got a newsflash email from Channel 4 news:

A plot to blow up passenger flights in mid-air has been foiled by police and security services.

The official security threat level in Britain has been moved up from severe to critical which means an imminent attack is expected.

Around 20 people were arrested overnight in London in connection with the plans which are believed to involve detonating explosives smuggled onto planes in hand luggage

Flights between Britain and the US are thought to have been targeted.

Security at all UK airports has been increased and additional security measures been put in place for all flights.

All passengers will be hand-searched and have their shoes X-rayed before boarding their flight and all bags must now be checked in.

Travellers are only allowed to carry a few items such as wallets, travel documents, medicines and spectacles into the cabin and are being asked to put them in a clear carrier bag.

Parents with young children can take baby food, milk, nappies and wipes aboard.

But the cabin ban includes handbags, mobiles phones, laptops, iPods and electrical key fobs.

For a full list click here http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_about/documents/page/dft_about_612280.hcsp

Pushchairs and walking aids must be X-ray screened, and only airport-provided wheelchairs may pass through the screening point.

All passengers boarding flights to the USA will have to undergo a second search at the boarding gate.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport said: “Regrettably, significant delays at airports are inevitable.

“Passengers are being asked to allow themselves plenty of extra time and to ensure that other than the few permitted items, all their belongings are placed in their hold baggage and checked in.

“These additional security measures will make travel more difficult for passengers, particularly at such a busy time of the year. But they are necessary and will continue to keep flights from UK airports properly secure.

“We hope that these measures, which are being kept under review by the Government, will need to be in place for a limited period only.

“In light of the threat to aviation and the need to respond to it, we are asking the travelling public to be patient and understanding and to co-operate fully with airport security staff and the police.

“If passengers have any questions on their travel arrangements or security in place at airports they should contact their airline or carrier.”

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We would like to reassure the public that this operation was carried out with public safety uppermost in our minds. This is a major operation which inevitably will be lengthy and complex.”

Home Secretary John Reid said the alleged plot was “very significant” and was designed to “bring down a number of aircraft through mid-flight explosions, causing a considerable loss of life”.

12 thoughts on “Flying today? Don’t read this

  1. Gary says:

    I sincerely hope this metafilter poster is wrong:

    The cynic in me wonders whether this is a cunning plot to get the check-in areas of all UK airports to fill up with people so that when someone standing in the middle of the crowd detonates a bomb in the un-checked-in suitcase they’ve got in their trolley will kill/main the maximum numbers of people. Reports on the radio are talking about crowds so dense at Gatwick that people can’t get off the moving escalators. It reminds me a little of the IRA bomb that went off at one end of a busy street, and then another went off ten minutes later at the other end of the same street, thereby catching all the people who’d just run away from the first one.
    posted by talitha_kumi at 10:19 AM GMT on August 10

  2. Squander Two says:

    Got a point. That was a common IRA tactic, and no-one goes into the bombing business without studying the masters.

    However, the police are saying they did not make the arrests at this time because the bombing was imminent but for other reasons. The security, therefore, is probably just in case those whom they didn’t arrest decide to move the date forward as a result of the arrests. If the bombers weren’t planning to do anything today, then they’re probably not quite ready. I hope.

  3. Gary says:

    Yeah, that seems to be the case. Obviously the only news right now is sheer speculation, but it seems as if the cops moved because the threat changed from talking about it to actually making concrete plans. So today’s security is a just-in-case thing. I hope.

  4. Tony Kiernan says:

    >>today’s security is a just-in-case thing. I hope
    From the BBC:

    A spokesman for Number 10 said Tony Blair had briefed US President George Bush on the situation during the night.

    And then, flew out to the Caribbean. So, probably not that imminent.

  5. devin the artist says:

    They’re still terrorists, and you can still ID them and prevent them from entering the airports. It’s not like your random law-abiding citizens are going to walk into a crowded airport and do this stuff. The first step is to get no-fly lists up to date, as well as to help door screeners turn away no-fly passengers so they can’t even make it into the building. You can’t expect to stop all the bomb-type materials, but its not the materials that kill people, its the maniac hitting the button that kills people.

  6. Gary says:

    Hi Devin.

    They’re still terrorists, and you can still ID them and prevent them from entering the airports.

    If the stuff in today’s papers is accurate, the level of surveillance that’s been involved in this case means they could (and it seems, did) grab ’em long before they even thought about travelling to the airport…

    What I don’t really understand is: why target planes? Is it a boasting thing, ie “nothing you can do can stop us, mwah hah hah”? Because if you really want to scare people and do untold damage to the economy, Oxford Street and a few shopping malls are much softer targets.

  7. Tony Kiernan says:

    Oooh, watch yourself there Gary…

    I’ve moaned about this to loads of folk, but maybe now I can kinda see the thinking. O’hare airport in Chicago has nothing (and I mean nothing, not even a coffee machine) infront of hte check in desks and security right behind them. THEN you get to the interconnected shopping malls that make it the biggest airport in the world. Unfortunately, it’s non-smoking throughout. So, if you’ve got a five hour lay over, you can go out side have a fag and then…nothing. Until you’re through the security. Means the place isn’t clogged up with folk waiting to say bye-bye etc…

  8. Gary says:

    Oooh, watch yourself there Gary…

    You know what I mean, though. Seems like an awful lot of effort when there are easier options. I really don’t understand it.

  9. Squander Two says:

    I’m sure it started as a matter of news coverage. Blowing up a plane is guaranteed international coverage, while blowing up a shopping centre isn’t — or used not to be. These days, any bombing by Al Qaeda seems to be big international news, so it is puzzling.

    The other thing, perhaps, is the number of people threatened. If they’re bombing trains in Britain, then you’re safe if you stay out of Britain. But anyone could be on a plane: hit an international flight and you’re going to kill people from many more countries, upsetting and terrifying their friends in all those countries.

    Or it could just be a tunnel-visioned ego thing, yes.

  10. tm says:

    Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the world (if not the biggest) and aircraft are it’s lifeblood.

    A plane also makes a good solid target. Even a fairly minor blast will account for everyone aboard with no exceptions – somehting even a van load of fertilizer will still not guarantee in those complicated warrens that make up our shopping and city centres.

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