New terror risk for airports, US officials warn - CBS46 News

New terror risk for airports, US officials warn

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Air passengers may see some new safety precautions at airports. (Source: CNN) Air passengers may see some new safety precautions at airports. (Source: CNN)
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(CNN) - Action is being taken to meet what's being described as a different kind of threat to what sadly is a traditional target - air travelers.

The fear is that one or more bomb makers have come up with even harder-to-detect devices.

They are the first line of defense for the U.S. homeland, foreign airports with direct flights to the U.S.

And now the Department of Homeland Security is directing those international airports to step up their security screening.

In a recent statement, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said, “We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry,” he said.

Among the changes passengers may see include more screening of electronics and shoes along with more explosive detection machines and in some cases, extra screenings at boarding gates.

Driving the new directive is increasing concern that terrorists from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, are refining bombs designed to avoid detection by current airport screening methods.

“Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has long looked for vulnerabilities in airport security,” said Seth Jones of the RAND Corporation. “In particular, finding ways to put together bombs using non-metallic material which could make its way through metal detectors. But also trying to hide bombs in body crevices that will not be easily identified by some of the newer machines in airports.”

The man believed to be behind the threat is AQAP master bomb maker Ibrahim al-Asiri.

In recent months, U.S. officials have warned that Asiri and AQAP terrorists trained under him were improving designs of new explosive devices, such as shoe bombs, that could fool screening systems.

Former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said passengers should not avoid air travel.

“I would be, um, mindful of the fact that is probably increased risk,” he said. “I don't think it's dramatically different. I wouldn't not fly. And the good news here is that the government sharing information with others in other parts of the world is responding to this.”

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