PM in emergency talks over jet bomb plot

The Cobra review could leave passengers facing a raft of safeguards as the government undertakes a new review of security on passenger jets…

David Cameron is today chairing a meeting of the Cobra committee – the government’s emergency planning committee – to decide how to respond to the discovery of a US-bound bomb in the UK and another in Dubai.

Devices containing PETN – a powerful explosive material – sent from Yemen were found hidden in computer printer cartridges on a cargo plane at East Midlands airport and at a FedEx facility in Dubai on Friday. Qatar Airlines confirmed the parcel bomb discovered in Dubai was transported on two separate passenger jets before being found by security staff.

Both devices, which were in packages addressed to synagogues in the US city of Chicago, were found only after a tip-off from Saudi Arabian intelligence. UK police have defended their actions after the device found at East Midlands airport was at first declared ‘safe’ before being re-examined as a ‘precaution’.

The Prime Minister said of the device in the UK: ‘We believe it was designed to go off on the airplane. We cannot be sure about the timing, when that was meant to take place.’

PETN is almost undetectable and there are fears that al Qaeda bombs are becoming too sophisticated for airport X-ray machines to spot. The Cobra talks are expected to discuss the screening of air freight and whether there needs to be tighter security for cargo flights.

Industry figures fear it could lead to a new, and some say unnecessary, overhaul of airport security. It seems passengers face no let-up in stringent checks despite calls last week from airline bosses that existing security procedures such as shoe and laptop checks should be scrapped.

Do you think that even more screening measures should be introduced? Or do you feel that despite all of the supposedly high-level security regimes in place around air travel, an explosive device can still get on board a plane – so what’s the point in inconveniencing passengers further?

Let us know what you think in the comments box below…


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