News

Shoes, cell phones face increased scruntity

Shoes, cell phones face increased scruntity

FLIGHT SECURITY:Police officers patrol at a security gate inside the main terminal of Frankfurt Airport July 3. Photo: Reuters/Ralph Orlowski

By Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Airlines with direct flights to the United States have been told to tighten screening of mobile phones and shoes in response to intelligence reports of increased threats from al Qaeda-affiliated militant groups, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

The officials singled out smartphones including iPhones made by Apple Inc and Galaxy phones made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd for extra security checks on U.S.-bound direct flights from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

U.S. security officials said they fear bombmakers from the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have figured out how to turn the phones into explosive devices that can avoid detection.

They also are concerned that hard-to-detect bombs could be built into shoes, said the officials, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

A U.S. official said that other electronic devices carried by passengers also are likely to receive more intense scrutiny.

Airlines or airport operators that fail to strengthen security could face bans on flights entering the United States, the officials said.

The U.S. Homeland Security Department announced on Wednesday plans to step up security checks, but they offered few details on how airlines and airports will implement them.

An official familiar with the matter said the United States believes that while it is possible there may be some additional delays at security checkpoints, at most major airports passengers will not be seriously inconvenienced.

The official said most passengers taking long-distance flights arrive well in advance of scheduled departures, leaving time for extra screening. But he said the United States could not rule out disruptions in countries where airport infrastructure and security procedures are less sophisticated.

U.S.-based airlines had little to say about the enhanced security. American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller said the Department of Homeland Security had been in contact with American on the issue, but declined to comment further.

Luke Punzenberger, a spokesman for United Airlines Inc[UALCO.UL], said: “We work closely with federal officials on security matters, but we are not able to discuss the details of those efforts.”

U.S. security agencies fear bombmakers from AQAP and the Islamist Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, are collaborating on plots to attack U.S.- or Europe-bound planes with bombs concealed on foreign fighters carrying Western passports, the officials said.

AQAP has a track record of plotting such attacks. Its innovative bombmaker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, built an underwear bomb used in a failed 2009 effort to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner, and his devices were implicated in other plots.

There was no immediate indication U.S. intelligence had detected a specific plot or timeframe for any attack.

U.S. officials say the United States has acquired evidence that Nusra and AQAP operatives have tested new bomb designs in Syria, where Nusra is one of the main Islamist groups fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

(Editing by Jason Szep, Andrew Hay and Lisa Shumaker)

Recent Headlines

in Sports

World Series Game 4 in the City by the Bay

FILE - At left, in an Oct. 15, 2014, file photo, San Francisco Giants' Ryan Vogelsong throws against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series in San Francisco. At right, in a July 8, 2014, file photo, Kansas City Royals' Jason Vargas pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla. Vargas faces Vogelsong in Game 4 of baseball's World Series Saturday night, Oct. 25, 2014, in San Francisco.

It's Ryan Vogelsong on the mound for the Giants against Jason Vargas for the Royals.

in Entertainment

This weekend in entertainment history

beatles

A look back on some of Hollywood's most memorable moments.

in Sports

Mariota throws 5 TD’s, No. 6 Oregon beats Cal

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is shown warming up for an NCAA college football game against UCLA in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013.

Marcus Mariota broke the Oregon record for career passing yards in the No. 6 Ducks' 59-41 victory over California on Friday night.

in Sports

Royals beat Giants 3-2 for 2-1 World Series lead

Kansas City Royals coach Ned Yost speaks during a press conference before Game 1 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo.

Herrera, Brandon Finnegan, Wade Davis and Greg Holland combined for four innings of hitless relief, the longest in a Series game in 22 years.

in Sports

Ted Bishop resigns as PGA president

FILE - PGA of America President Ted Bishop speaks next to the Presidents Cup trophy at a news conference at City Hall in San Francisco, in this July 2, 2014 file photo. The PGA of America president referred to Ian Poulter as a little girl on two social media accounts Thursday evening Oct. 23, 2014 for his comments on Nick Faldo and Tom Watson as Ryder Cup captains.

Ted Bishop has been removed as president of the PGA of America over a sexist tweet directed at Ian Poulter.

Bellingham Traffic