White House Orders Enhanced Security At Foreign Airports

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The Department of Homeland Security announced on Wednesday, July 1st that enhanced security measures were being put in place at a number of foreign airports with direct flights to the U.S.. These steps are being taken in response to increasing concerns about global threats.

The directive covers more than a dozen foreign airports in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, according to a source at DHS. The enhanced security will be hands on and obvious, involving more individual screenings and swabs of passengers and baggage to detect traces of explosives.

Foreign airports’ enhanced security to start next week

The DHS source indicated the enhanced screening will begin at the start of next week, Furthermore, the greater threat isn’t specifically tied to the July the 4th holiday. The rationale for the additional security measures is that intelligence suggests an increased risk of terrorists trying to smuggle an improvised explosive device on a plane.

Statement from Homeland Security Secretary

In a statement, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he put out the directive as the agency “continually assesses the global threat environment and re-evaluates the measures we take to promote aviation security.”

Johnson would not provide any specifics regarding the measures, the airports involved or offer any details or further color on the threats that led to the enhanced security.

He did mention that aviation security measures might include “seen and unseen” actions, and went on to say that the United States is sharing information with foreign allies and liaising closely with the aviation industry.

Nonmetallic bombs

Security experts and officials are likely concerned about nonmetallic bombs, said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert from Georgetown University.

The TSA issued a warning about improvised explosive device that aren’t as susceptible to exposure by metal detectors back in 2012, and set up a series of “enhanced secondary screening” procedures in response to the threat, Hoffman elaborated, saying the recently announced measures would make more more frequent use of these secondary screening practices.

These kind of nonmetallic bombs use as little as two ounces of liquid-based explosives and are very difficult to detect, according to Doug Laird, an aviation security expert and former security director of Northwest Airlines.

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