US Increases Air Cargo Screening after Foiled Plot to Mail Bombs Uncovered

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The United States is taking additional security precautions for air cargo, following a recently thwarted terrorist plot to send mail bombs from Yemen to the U.S. Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano says the U.S. is extending a ban on air cargo, which is already in effect for Yemen, to include Somalia. Napolitano says toner and ink cartridges weighing more than a half-kilogram are banned on passenger planes on domestic and incoming international flights. Meanwhile, investigators are searching for more clues into the failed plot last month. Two packages containing bombs were found inside desktop computer printers on cargo flights that were shipped from Yemen bound for two synagogues in Chicago. U.S. authorities have heightened security at the nation’s airports, seaports and land border crossings. VOA’s Chris Simkins reports.

terrorism experts say if the recent fail plot to blow up cargo planes flying to the US had succeeded it would have harmed the world economy Brad Garrett is a former FBI agent if one cargo plane is taken down by a bomb you could literally shut down cargo transport across the world the government says billions of metric tons of cargo are flown into the US every year but only a limited amount is screened homeland security expert Charles sleppin what I hear still were about ninety percent of that cargo is not screened at least not screened in a fashion where you could determine what's inside the containers analysts say that's because shipping companies often allow their most trusted customers to send parcels as secure other factors include poor screening at international airports and a lack of specialized screening machines US officials say they're moving to enhance screening of cargo entering the country but shippers have long opposed stricter screening of international cargo because of costs u.s. representative ed markey was instrumental in pushing for the law that requires the government to screen one hundred percent of u.s. domestic cargo on passenger planes but the TSA says only about sixty five percent was being screened as of September al Qaeda would like to blow up a plane if the security is so lacks that they could do so every time an industry says it's too expensive than al Qaeda begins to plot last month US investigators were able to track down the packages containing bombs on cargo planes after a tip from intelligence officials in Saudi Arabia former CIA terrorism analyst Phil Mudd it's not just important in this situation that's critical I don't know how you stop that without stopping global commerce if you don't have the precision to search for one package or another counterterrorism analysts Bennett waters says the mail bomb plot also highlights the weakness in the worldwide cargo shipping industry I think the biggest vulnerability is at the inner national community has not yet adopted a common standard and we don't have the type of screening that domestic cargo and cargo that is transiting passenger aircraft from the United States isn't applying to the international community writ large homeland security analysts maintained the government should also adopt uniform screening measures such as those used at the nation's seaports and US land border crossings here US Customs and Border Protection agents are reviewing shipping lists to determine what cargo needs close inspection before it arrives in the country Chris Simpkins VOA news Washington