Bomb threats were made against five different aircraft, from five different airlines, on flights either originating or landing in the United States on Tuesday. Officials say all five of the threats were “non-credible,” part of a surge in hoax bomb threats in progress since Memorial Day.
NBC News says all the “threats of chemical explosives” were “phoned” in. UPI clarifies that at least one of the threats, against U.S. Airways Flight 648 from San Diego, California to Philadelphia International Airport, was received by telephone at the Transportation Security Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Flight 648 was evacuated after landing, moved to a safer location “out of an abundance of caution” according to Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan, and thoroughly searched by a police bomb squad and K-9 team.
“There was nothing dangerous aboard the plane,” reported Sullivan. “It was a hoax phone threat.”
ABC News in Philadelphia posted video of the 93 passengers departing the plane, using mobile stairs on the tarmac:
The other planes threatened were Korean Air Flight 23 from Seoul to San Francisco; Delta Flight 55, from Los Angeles to Atlanta; United Flight 995, from San Francisco to Chicago O’Hare; and Volaris Flight 939, from Portland, Oregon to Guadalajara, Mexico. The Korean Air plane was still in flight at the time NBC News posted its report, but the others have all landed safely. Volaris is a Mexican airline.
“Hoax threats have been made against almost a dozen planes over the past two weeks, mostly flights coming into the United States from other countries,” NBC reports.
The UK Daily Mail adds that the FBI believes the threats were all made by a single individual. “Among them, an Air France was escorted by two military jets and screened at JFK airport following reports of a chemical threat on board,” the Daily Mail reports.
That was one of ten separate threats made on Memorial Day, and it involved not just a chemical explosive (as if that isn’t bad enough) but an outright chemical weapon. The threat was called into the Maryland State Police, who contacted the flight crew and asked if anyone aboard had become sick, even as NORAD scrambled a pair of F-15 fighters to escort the plane into JFK.
As several news outlets reporting this story have noted, today’s wave of bomb threats comes at the same time our $5 billion Transportation Safety Administration admitted that its security checkpoints failed to detect bombs an astonishing ninety-five percent of the time during Department of Homeland Security testing.