Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 14, 2006

Aviation terror plot: Sunday night update

Filed under: Aviation Security,Investigation & Enforcement,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Christian Beckner on August 14, 2006

News from the last 24 hours related to the UK terror plot:

1. British Home Secretary John Reid said on Sunday that the UK had disrupted four major terror plots in Britain since the July 7, 2005 transit attacks, and said that police were investigating two dozen current plots.

2. This Sunday Times story takes a close look at the events that triggered the UK’s response on Thursday morning, telling how MI5 and Scotland Yard sprung into action following the arrest of plot mastermind Rashid Rauf in Pakistan. And it provides new biographical information on the plotters.

3. The Guardian reports on Monday that the suspected ringleader of the aviation plot, Rashid Rauf, is providing details “that directly link the conspiracy to al-Qaida in Afghanistan.”

4. The British government reduced their threat level from Critical to Severe on Sunday, an indication that the UK officials no longer think that “an attack is expected imminently.” The Department of Homeland Security matched this change shortly thereafter by reducing the threat level on flights bound from the UK to the US from Red to Orange. The rest of the aviation sector remained at Orange.

5. Sec. Chertoff made the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows, clarifying that no U.S. links to the plotters have been found. In related news, this story in the New York Times describes how Sec. Chertoff and a small cadre of DHS officials prepared for the response prior to Thursday’s arrests.

6. TSA amended its travel rules slightly on Sunday, clarifying that baby formula and medications would be allowed on flights, and that shoe removal would now be mandatory for all passengers at all airports. The transport authorities in Britain also relaxed their carry-on rules today, now allowing passengers to take on one small bag (but no liquids or gels).

7. This AP story describes different types of explosive detection equipment that are relevant for liquid/gel explosive threat.

8. Interpol’s Ron Noble criticizes British officials in a NY Times op-ed for not using Interpol’s international information-sharing mechanism’s in the aftermath of the arrests, and makes the case for the value of this type of information-sharing.

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