A security review is underway in the UK after the discovery of a viable explosive device at East Midlands Airport in Nottingham.
The home secretary has said after a meeting of the government security committee Cobra on Saturday that no freight from Yemen would be allowed into the country unaccompanied.
UPS officials intercepted two US-bound packages travelling from Yemen on Friday that offered a real threat and could have exploded. This was confirmed by the home office.
It was believed that the target was the American owned UPS and FEDEX aircraft and the aim was to bring them down while it was in the air.
In the UK shippers use only accredited companies to transport goods, so this means not all parcels are screened but this may now be changed and security upgraded to mean that every single parcel is X rayed and checked. The threat level for “terrorist attacks” in the UK is now at severe – the highest rating possible.
David Cameron, the British prime minister and Barack Obama have exchanged urgent phone calls to discuss the parcel-bomb plot.
The White House said the US president has praised all involved in the interception of the explosive device and promised to step up security to ensure no repeat of the incident could occur again.
Measures including more CCTV and access control integrated with x ray detection devices and better screening methods would be introduced.
Al-Qaeda is thought to be behind the attempt to sabotage the aircraft although this is as yet unconfirmed, but it bought airports across the globe to a halt. The staff at the depot in the UK where the device was found on the ground at East Midlands airport were holed up for several hours as it was deemed safer to do this rather than move them.
However, targeting freight planes is new. Any security mechanism in the airline world is only as strong as the point of embarkation. Electronic security measures will need to be beefed up. More cameras more access control will be essential to ensure there are no weak points, Staff will go through more security checks and parcels from rogue nations will be monitored more closely and global standards for parcel checking will be introduced.
The discovery of the suspicious packages in the UK came after a tip from Saudi Arabia and caused US officials to scramble to check all goods bound for the US from Yemen. Disguised as computer printer equipment the parcels were bound for Chicago address to a Jewish place of worship.
Vigilance of staff and international cooperation played its part in the discovery of the devices, it can only be left to the imagination as to what could have happened and the whole world has been spared the chaos, at least for now.