WRAPUP 4-Governments tighten air security after Yemen plot

* Security pressure seen on passenger jet cargo

* Britain bans printer toners as passenger hand luggage

(adds Netherlands freight ban)

By Tim Castle

LONDON, Nov 1 (BestGrowthStock) – Governments tightened aviation
security on Monday after two U.S-bound bombs sent in air cargo
from Yemen were intercepted in Dubai and Britain.

The devices, discovered on Friday, were hidden in printers
and would have been powerful enough to destroy the planes
carrying them, Britain said.

The plot highlighted what appeared to be a loophole in air
cargo security after Qatar Airways confirmed the Dubai parcel
had been transported on its passenger planes from the Yemeni
capital Sanaa via Doha.

Britain said it believed the attempt was organised by al
Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), but said it had no
information the organisation was planning further attacks.

A U.S. official has said Saudi bomb maker Ibrahim Hassan
al-Asiri, believed to be working with AQAP, is a key suspect.
[ID:nLDE6A00QC] [ID:nN30272315]

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For more stories on the plot, click on [nYEMEN]

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As a precaution Britain said it was banning air passengers
from taking large toner cartridges onto planes as hand luggage,
while Nigeria said it would improve the scanning of cargo bound
for the United States.

Airline security in Africa’s most populous country has come
under heightened scrutiny after a failed Christmas Day bombing
attempt on a U.S. airliner blamed on a Nigerian passenger with
explosives concealed in his underwear and claimed by AQAP.

The Dutch anti-terrorism agency banned all airborne post and
freight from Yemen entering the Netherlands. Germany said it had
suspended passenger flights from Yemen, and was considering
expanding a cargo flight ban to other unnamed countries.

Britain said it was also banning all air freight sent from
Somalia, adding to a ban on Yemen cargo flights imposed at the
weekend. [ID:nLDE6A01MJ]

EXPLOSIVES

British Prime Minister David Cameron thanked the police and
intelligence operation whose efforts “clearly prevented the
terrorists killing and maiming many innocent people whether here
or elsewhere in the world”.

One of the packages was found on a United Parcel Service
(UPS.N: ) cargo plane at East Midlands Airport, north of London,
on Friday. The other bomb was discovered in a parcel at a FedEx
(FDX.N: ) facility in Dubai.

The bomb found in Britain was hidden in a Hewlett Packard
printer and contained 400 grams of the highly potent explosive
pentaerythritol trinitrate (PETN), with the Dubai package
holding 300 grams, a German government source said. The
Christmas Day attack also used PETN.

British authorities intervened after a tip-off from Saudi
intelligence was passed on by German authorities, the German
source added.

The BBC, citing unidentified British officials, said the
information came from an al Qaeda member who turned himself into
Saudi authorities.

The plot could fuel calls for the wider use of imaging
technology designed to detect explosives, which is not standard,
but freight firms are reluctant to bear the full cost.
[ID:nLDE6A007Z]

Tighter international air cargo security rules could deal a
blow to trade and the world economy as it recovers from the
global recession. According to airlines association IATA, about
35 percent of the value of world trade is carried by air.

Freight firms clashed with U.S. and European policy makers
last year over calls for 100 percent scanning of sea containers.
Plans to introduce full scanning from 2012 were postponed.

Airlines could also face pressure to put less cargo on
passenger planes or improve blast protection. [ID:nN01160964]

An Israeli security expert said it would have been “nearly
impossible” to spot the Yemeni bombs using standard X-ray
machines.

“The structure of a printer is so dense that it is very
difficult to spot explosives or a detonator through visual
screening,” said Yuval Amsterdam of Tamar Explosive Simulants
Technologies, which produces dummy bombs for security drills.

FREIGHT SECURITY

Philip Baum, editor of Aviation Security International
magazine, said new technology would not eliminate the risk or
airline attacks.

“The only thing that has prevented things has either been
good luck or people,” he told Reuters.

Interior minister Theresa May said Britain would review all
aspects of air freight security.

“At this stage we have no information to suggest that
another attack of a similar nature by al Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula is imminent,” May told parliament.

“But this organisation is very active. It continues to plan
other attacks in the region, notably against Saudi Arabia.

“We therefore work on the assumption that this organisation
will wish to continue to find ways of also attacking targets
further afield.”

Britain’s toner ban adds to the list of items passengers are
already barred from carrying on board.

Restrictions on the carrying of liquids on planes were
introduced in 2006 after the discovery of an al Qaeda-inspired
plot to blow up transatlantic flights with explosive materials
concealed as soft drinks.

In Sanaa, cheering Yemenis greeted the student detained
briefly on suspicion of having sent the bombs. [ID:nLDE6A00IC]

Yemeni police arrested computer science student Hanan
al-Samawi on Friday after tracing her through a telephone number
left with a freight company but released her the next day,
saying she had been a victim of identity theft.

A U.S. technical team has arrived in Yemen to train Yemenis
in the use of sophisticated airport screening equipment, a
government official told Reuters.
(Additional reporting by Erik Kirschbaum in Berlin, Nick
Tattersall in Lagos, Regan E. Doherty in Doha, Dan Williams in
Tel Aviv, Michael Holden and Karen Foster in London, Aaron
Gray-Block in Amsterdam and Mohamed Sudam in Sanaa)

WRAPUP 4-Governments tighten air security after Yemen plot