On six occasions AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via SMS messages to their mobile devices regarding security threats. Beginning Monday, subscribers were notified of new restrictions on the types of electronic devices allowed in the cabins of non-stop US-bound flights from eight Muslim-majority countries: Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Those traveling to the US from 10 airports in these countries will be barred from bringing laptops, tablets, or any devices “larger than a cellphone” as carry-on items. Instead, these items will need to placed in checked luggage.
According to the Dept of Homeland Security, intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items. Based on this information, DHS and TSA determined it is necessary to enhance security procedures for passengers at certain last point of departure airports to the United States.
At present there is no impact on domestic flights, or flights departing the United States. Following the announcement of the ban by DHS, the UK government announced similar restrictions.
Readers are reminded that on multiple occasions over the past several years, AlertsUSA Threat Journal has warned of increasing threats to the aviation sector:
In January 2015 we reported on a new issue of al Qaeda's quarterly Internet magazine known as 'Inspire' that included what counterterrorism experts say appears to be the most detailed, and potentially lethal, bomb recipe published by al Qaeda to date. In addition, instructions are also provided on getting the bomb through airport security and even where to sit on the plane.
In July 2014 we reported on new warnings that Al-Qaeda in Yemen, despite the media narrative of their deep animosity with ISIS, was passing on bomb making expertise to militants fighting in Syria and Iraq.
In Feb 2014 we reported on intelligence indicating Islamic terrorist organizations were working with methods for smuggling individual components for liquid explosives onto planes. It was this intelligence that led to DHS banning liquids, gels, aerosols & powders above a certain size within carry-on baggage.
Also in Feb 2014, we reported
on DHS warnings to domestic and international airlines of intelligence suggesting an increased threat involving explosives hidden in shoes on overseas flights bound for United States.
Vehicular Attack Outside UK Parliament
On Wednesday, AlertsUSA subscribers were notified of reports of shots fired on the Westminster Bridge outside of the Houses of Parliament in London. In the aftermath, London police report the incident began with British-born Khalid Masood, age 52, driving his SUV at approximately 70 MPH along the walkway of Westminster Bridge, intentionally mowing down pedestrians. Upon reaching the far end of the bridge, he crashed the SUV into the concrete and iron fence outside of Parliament, then fatally stabbed a responding police officer before being shot. As of the time of this report's preparation, four people had died in the incident and more than 50 were wounded, some with what responders described as catastrophic injuries.
On Thursday, the Islamic State formally claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the now dead suspect was a `soldier of the Islamic State'.
The group also released a new series of threatening graphics showing different landmarks buildings from London ablaze, with messages such as “we will bring the war in your countries: wait for the worse and be sure this operation will be the first but not the last”, and another which carries the vow “there is nothing but fire in front of you”.
AlertsUSA continues to monitor the overall domestic and international threat environment and will immediately notify service subscribers via SMS messages of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.