Travellers heading to America this summer are likely to suffer delays as a result of additional security checks at airports. The checks are being carried out because intelligence chiefs have warned that Muslim fanatics are trying to blow up planes using “invisible” explosives sewn inside their bodies.
According to the Daily Express hand luggage will now be swabbed for traces of explosives, and there will also be more body searches and a second round of checks at the departure gate. This is because the new bombs are believed to be non-metallic and low-vapour, making them undetectable to normal airport scanners.
The extremist behind the threat is understood to be a Saudi-born bomb-maker called Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri. The 32 year old has already been involved in a series of high-profile attempted bomb attacks through his Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) group. As previously reported on Breitbart London these include the “underpants bomb” on a US-bound jet and three devices hidden in printers flown to Britain and America.
Al-Asiri is high of the list of terrorists most wanted by the US, having even made the bomb that killed his brother in a failed suicide attack. He now lives in the Yemen but is training up some of his followers because he fears he will soon be killed in a US drone attack.
Whilst Downing Street would not give exact details of the threats facing UK aviation they did describe the situation as “evolving”. A spokesman advised travellers to continue with their normal plans but did warn of “significant disruption” caused by extra security checks.
David Cameron warned: “We need always to be vigilant to situations that can develop. There are terror organisations around the world that seek to do the UK, its citizens and citizens of many other countries harm.
“We take these decisions looking at the evidence in front of us and working with our partners.
“This is something we’ve discussed with the Americans and what we have done is put in place some extra precautions and extra checks. The safety of the travelling public must come first. We mustn’t take any risks with that.”
The threat to UK aviation is not just a headache for the security and intelligence services but also for the travel industry in general. This summer the sector has already been hit by delays in the passport office that have meant many travellers cannot get their documents in time to plan summer holidays. This has hit sales figures.
Extra delays at airports and increased anxiety about travelling are likely to put even more pressure on operators.
Terrorism and the threat of it have done significant damage to the aviation sector before. After September 11th transatlantic travel suffered such a major downturn that BA’s prized fleet of Concorde supersonic jets were no longer economically viable. By November of 2003 the company was forced to scrap them all.