View Full Version : U.S. Checking Foreign Airlines for Terror Risks

24th Dec 2003, 11:29
From today's Washington Post:

U.S. Checking Foreign Airlines for Terror Risks

By Sara Kehaulani Goo and Susan Schmidt
Washington Post Staff Writers

Wednesday, December 24, 2003; Page A04

New U.S. intelligence is prompting stepped-up scrutiny into whether foreign airports and airlines have been penetrated by individuals sympathetic to terrorist groups, U.S. law enforcement officials said.

U.S. security officials have been thoroughly checking the identities of foreign flight crews before their departures from U.S. airports and upon their arrival in the United States. U.S. officials have questioned a small number of crew members in recent weeks after their names appeared to be similar to those on the FBI's "watch lists" of suspected terrorists, Bush administration sources said yesterday.

The officials said there have been no arrests and declined to identify the air carriers involved.

"At this time, our customs and border-protection inspectors are increasing scrutiny of all international passengers coming into the United States," said Department of Homeland Security spokesman Brian Roehrkasse.

The most recent U.S. intelligence reports that prompted the government to elevate the nation's alert level on Sunday to "code orange" or "high," indicate that terrorists may target U.S.-bound flights from overseas, although other methods of attack, such as use of a "dirty" bomb that spreads radioactive materials, are also possible. Law enforcement officials said they are concerned about security throughout the country but in particular in Washington, New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.In an unusual event, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Los Angeles city officials said last night that said they will forbid passengers from being picked up or dropped off by private vehicles at the Los Angeles International Airport terminal during the holidays. Passengers will have to be picked up and dropped off at nearby parking garages. It is the first time in nearly two years that a major U.S. airport has restricted access in that fashion.

"Terrorist operatives remain interested in bombings, suicide hijackings and even the possible use of man-portable air defense systems," or shoulder-fired missile, said a Department of Homeland Security memo to U.S. airports issued Sunday that was obtained by The Washington Post. The department continues "to receive uncorroborated reports that extremists may attempt to hijack or bomb commercial aircraft both in the United States and abroad."

Passengers coming into at least one major U.S. international airport on Air France and flights from Mexico will be subject to more security procedures beginning today, according to an aviation industry official and two other sources. Some foreign airlines are planning to have their countries' armed air marshals on board U.S.-bound flights, sources said.

Miguel Monterrubio, a Mexican Embassy spokesman, said authorities from his country are cooperating with U.S. officials to "avoid any security risk." He declined to discuss specific security procedures.

A French official said there have been "some very intense exchanges" between U.S. and French officials on efforts "to share intelligence and to reflect on how we could prevent any possible terrorist attacks."

Air France has 25 scheduled daily flights to the United States. A spokesman declined to comment on the airline's security procedures.

The Department of Homeland Security said that it issued the same directions to all international carriers to step up security during the heightened alert and that no specific airline is being targeted.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, U.S. officials have expressed frustration that security at some foreign airports is nowhere near as tight as it is at U.S. airports. The U.S. complaints have intensified in recent months, officials and security experts said.

"You can understand the concerns of U.S. intelligence about this, because security at some foreign airports is appallingly low," said Chris Yates, an aviation-security analyst at the Jane's Aviation consulting service.

Yates said that among the airports with spotty security are many regional ones in Russia, whose flights feed into Moscow's airport, and mid-size airports around the Middle East whose flights connect to cities such as Cairo. In many Muslim countries, he said, women who set off alarms going through security are not searched because of cultural sensitivities.

The United States earlier this year revoked the right of two Saudi pilots to fly into the United States, as part of a secretive new program run by the TSA that can bar pilots if the agency decides they "pose a security threat." The TSA said it has not taken similar action since then.

Foreign pilots must undergo a Department of Homeland Security background check, which includes a review of any criminal history. After the terrorist attacks in 2001, the Federal Aviation Administration created a database of foreign flight crews from 17 foreign airlines.

Foreign crews are matched to the database and the FBI watch lists. The Department of Homeland Security said it has flagged foreign pilots for questions relating to the background checks, crew database and watch lists.

"It happens on occasion that those pilots are told they can't fly into the U.S.," an administration official said.

At U.S. airports, Bureau of Customs and Border Protection inspectors have stepped up scrutiny of foreign flight crews after they arrive, according to Frank A. Clark, executive director of LAX Tech Corp., an organization that represents 46 international carriers with service to Los Angeles International, one of the largest international airports in the world.

It is not uncommon, Clark said, for some members of foreign flight crews to be questioned and held for 45 minutes to an hour, as U.S. officials verify their identities. Often crew members have the same or similar last names as people on the watch lists, Clark said.

"We see, on occasions, a crew member . . . held and questioned extensively," Clark said. Usually it's because the crew member has the "Asian version of Smith or the Arabic version of Smith" as a last name, he said.

Clark said the tightening of security started in September, after the Department of Homeland Security canceled a program that allowed some passengers to move through U.S. airports without visas. That action, which was taken out of concern that terrorists could exploit the program and slip into the country, prompted changes for foreign carriers, he said.


Another article on the same subject:


Foreign Aviation Security Lags Behind U.S., Experts Say


WASHINGTON _ The Bush administration needs to convince other countries to tighten their aviation security to prevent foreign airplanes crossing the United States from being used as weapons, homeland security experts said Monday.

Experts also said the United States should refocus attention on air cargo safety in light of the raised threat warning by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

Officials are particularly worried that al-Qaida will use airplanes as they did in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Ridge said. "They're always looking ... to return to methods that they've used successfully before."

With security at U.S. airports tighter than it was before Sept. 11, several experts said foreign airlines and airports must follow suit.

"I have no fear of flying on any American air carriers, but I am concerned about certain foreign carriers," said Harvey Kushner, a criminal justice professor at Long Island University and author of several books on terrorism...



More reports of a possible al-Qaida U.S. attack using foreign airlines from MSNBC:

NBC, MSNBC and news services

Updated: 8:57 p.m. ET Dec. 23, 2003

New intelligence information indicates that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his top deputy personally approved the suspected terrorist attack plan that led the government to raise the nation's terror threat assessment this week, U.S. officials told NBC News on Tuesday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. intelligence agencies had gathered detailed information about the plan, in which they said al-Qaida operatives would hijack foreign airliners and fly them into targets in the United States. In some instances, the intelligence is so detailed as to include specific flight numbers, they said.

The Defense Department said Tuesday that it was broadening air patrols throughout the country. Security forces have put several U.S. airports under intense scrutiny, the U.S. officials told NBC's Jim Miklaszewski, specifically naming Newark International Airport in New Jersey...

...The new intelligence adds details to information about the al-Qaida plot first reported Monday by NBC News, which quoted U.S. officials as saying the terrorist threat assessment was raised over the weekend because of indications that al-Qaida operatives may now be fully trained and licensed pilots for some foreign airlines, ideally positioning them to carry out suicide attacks...


Captain Sand Dune
24th Dec 2003, 12:26
In many Muslim countries, he said, women who set off alarms going through security are not searched because of cultural sensitivities.

B:mad: t alert! In Saudi Arabia (arguably the country where most of our problems with terrorism have sprung from!) women are searched by female security personnel in a separate room.

Merry (and safe) X-Mas to all.

Felix Lighter
24th Dec 2003, 14:24
1. V glad that I havent been rostered to the USA for 8+months. After a 14hr flight, Im not sure I could deal with a TSA agent treating me like a criminal just because Im a pilot.

** On a trip to ANC I "clever clogs" TSA official explained to me that pilots needed more scrutiny than pax because on 9/11 the pilots flew the planes into the WTC! (Who teaches these people?)

2. If I were a pax, travelling to Europe (for example) I would actively avoid flights that connect through the USA.

** And before someone slates me; I dont disagree with the security measures the yanks are taking - but for 99.99% of people it is a em******ance factor that is only going to get worse (esp when, despite all these security efforts, something does happen again)

Fingers crossed we all have a happy and safe Holiday Season

24th Dec 2003, 15:46
In order to reduce the stress of the US security checks (don't get me wrong, I think security is a good thing, and post 11/9, we ignore threat indicators at our peril) I have a silent mantra I recite to myself when approaching the "shoes off, belts off" people : "I must not call this well intentioned person a c*cksucking Naz* mother *ucker" (repeat as necessary).

the egg man
24th Dec 2003, 16:48
a bit harsh scribble
these people are only trying to do there job,to keep pax and crew safe against a few extremists who have no quams killing themselves and taking everyone else in the plane for the ride.
security people do a thankless task keep up the good work and we all hope for a safe 2004.

24th Dec 2003, 16:59
Time to arm pilots. In Europe too!

24th Dec 2003, 19:57
Time to arm pilots. In Europe too!
Good idea. They can shoot management when they get screwed around.;)

24th Dec 2003, 20:05
D'you know what? I actually think the levelof politeness and professionalism at security in the States has gone up since TSA took it over. Certainly JFK had some right m-f'ers before but now they're know the f-factor is all part of just doing their job and they generally treat crews OK.

But right now it ain't TSA screwing folks around. One of our JFKs last night was delayed 2 hours by a SWAT team standing around on our aircraft helping themselves to Cokes as part of an extra pre-security patrol. Plus every crewmember got a full grilling in a closed room. These guys ARE the Nazis refered to earlier.

Hey ho off to EWR in 2 hours to spend 48 hrs hanging by me thumbs for wearing a Santa hat.

Merry Crimbo all.

24th Dec 2003, 23:33
Felix lighter said

After a 14hr flight, Im not sure I could deal with a TSA agent treating me like a criminal just because Im a pilot.

Ummm dude, are you really a pilot? You wouldn't see the TSA untill you reported for your flight back OUT of the country.

The TSA has absolutely ZERO to do with arriving passengers. That is handled as it always was by fedral agents of the customs and immigration services (and agriculture if you are carrying organic things). The only difference between now and before 9/11 is they might actually open and look at your passport now rather than just verify that you have the outside of a passport in your hand...

Everyone likes to slag off the TSA now, but the security is miles more proffessional than it was before. The fact that the machines are actually set to detect metal now might be annoying, but what else are they there for? By and large the security people are polite and courteous.


surely not
25th Dec 2003, 01:58
Despite the improvement by the TSA I believe that security in the USA is still less than in UK.

Nowhere is 100%, and it never will be no matter who carries guns or issues ID's, but it is getting very difficult to get clearance for a pass to go airside in UK.

The problem with 'similar' names to people on the no fly list is that if you are unlucky enough to have one of these names, there is no mechanism to have your name cleared after investigation, it just sits there on the list for all time causing you hassle every time you travel. Not a very sophisticated sytem at all.

I sincerely hope everyone has a safe and happy Christmas.

25th Dec 2003, 02:10
Wino said

"Ummm dude, are you really a pilot? You wouldn't see the TSA untill you reported for your flight back OUT of the country.

The TSA has absolutely ZERO to do with arriving passengers."

Try arriving in MEM on NW57(?) at gate B34 and then start taking your shoes/belt buckles off by order of a TSA agent AFTER you've done the Customs/Immigration bit. Doesn't matter if your trip terminates in MEM or you are continuing onwards, you get it all the same.

25th Dec 2003, 02:23
From www.cnn.com :

French government cancels three Air France flights from Paris to L.A. due to terror fears, French Interior Ministry says. Details soon.


Here's more:

3 Air France Flights Cancelled
U.S. Embassy Cited Security Concerns Over L.A.-bound Flights

Wednesday, December 24, 2003; 2:07 PM

PARIS (Reuters) - France said Wednesday that national carrier Air France had canceled three U.S.-bound flights from Paris due to security concerns.

The French interior ministry said the flights were canceled at the request of the U.S. Embassy in Paris. The United States is on a heightened state of alert ahead of Christmas and the Washington Post reported that foreign airlines were under particular scrutiny.

An Air France spokeswoman confirmed that a flight due to leave Paris at 7:35 a.m. EST for Los Angeles had been grounded "for security reasons."

The French prime minister's office said the cancellations had been prompted by information obtained from anti-terrorism operations. An interior ministry spokesman said that two other flights to the United States had also been canceled.

It was not clear whether these flights were bound for Los Angeles or elsewhere.

The U.S. government raised its terror alert to the second highest level Sunday and warned Americans there was a high risk of attacks around the holidays in the United States that could be bigger than those of Sept. 11, 2001.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that new U.S. intelligence had prompted greater scrutiny into whether foreign airports and airlines pose a security threat.

U.S. security officials were thoroughly checking the identities of foreign flight crews and had questioned a few people with names that appeared to be similar to those on the FBI's "watch lists" of suspects, the report said, citing administration sources.

Officials declined to identify the air carriers involved, the newspaper reported.

Passengers coming into at least one major U.S. international airport on Air France and flights from Mexico will be subject to more security procedures beginning Wednesday, the report said, citing industry sources.

France has not raised its security alert for the Christmas holiday period.


25th Dec 2003, 02:28
Yeah flightmech, thats a little different. That is onward after an arrival.

But a pilot operating a 14 hour sector is unlikely to be in that boat. They are headed for the hotel...

Airbubba, cancelling the flights reminds me of a PANAM hijacking. PLO terrorists had been turned away from an ELAL flight by security. so 2 of em simply borded the next panam flight and hijacked it instead.... Would rather FILL the plane with security and catch the ****ers...


25th Dec 2003, 03:09
Wino, disembarking people certainly do have to contend with the security paranoia. Orlando Intl (MCO) is a prime example.

You're checked through security arriving & departing.

25th Dec 2003, 04:38
With the U.S alert level up to 4 out of 5 or orange, I think the U.S like any other country needs to take whatever measures are necessary to prevent another September 11th.

I think what most people miss on these threads is the fact the terrorists aren't trying to kill people en-mass (although that is sometimes one of the side effects) but to ruin the Western Economies. They almost succeeded the last time.

So the next time you slag off security, remember what they are there for !! It's to protect the way you live and your life !! Personally I don't care if the U.K security is better than the U.S security as long as we catch the scum trying to iniltrate our borders.


25th Dec 2003, 06:00
Air France has cancelled six flights between Paris and Los Angeles amid fears of a terror attack.

More from BBC News;

BBC NEWS (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/3347313.stm)

Check 6
25th Dec 2003, 06:24
Wino, not so. Arriving passengers now face TSA security after clearing customs and immigration at many airports. Orlando comes to mind.

25th Dec 2003, 07:15
http://nbc4la.feedroom.com/iframeset.jsp?ord=352823 - "live" from LAX

25th Dec 2003, 10:11
slightly sensationalist with the title dont you think!

25th Dec 2003, 12:20
Time to arm pilots. In Europe too!

Rwy in Sight
25th Dec 2003, 16:17
It's christmass time and we suppose to be happy but my mind make some... out of procedure turns.

I start to thing that all the security upset (canceled flights, more security measures at the airports, announcement about highten alert) serve more the goverments (to justify their positions on war on terror and the need to be re-elected) rather than people.

Merry Xmass to all of you with hapiness and money all along

Rwy in Sight

Jordan D
25th Dec 2003, 17:28
I just feel sorry for those trying to travel at this time of the year if they are meeting family. I mean security for security's sake is good ... but surely if the terrorists wanted to, it wouldn't take much effort to transit through another Hub (FRA/LHR/AMS/etc.)


26th Dec 2003, 06:35
France Says No Proof of Hijack Plot Found


Published: December 25, 2003

Filed at 5:24 p.m. ET

PARIS (AP) -- French investigators questioned seven men pointed out by U.S. intelligence but found no evidence they planned to use a Los Angeles-bound jet to launch terror attacks against the United States, French authorities said Thursday.

American warnings of a plot had prompted Air France to cancel six flights on Wednesday between Paris and Los Angeles -- three in each direction -- amid a stepped-up terror alert level in the United States.

U.S. intelligence officials told their French counterparts that members of the al-Qaida terrorist network would try to board the planes over Christmas, said a French judicial official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The seven questioned men, who all had tickets for Air France Flight 68 to Los Angeles, were on a watch list provided by U.S. authorities, an Interior Ministry spokesman said. But all were released after questioning Wednesday night, the spokesman said.

``There are no longer any investigations,'' he said.

France's anti-terrorism judicial unit chose not to launch a formal investigation because of a lack of evidence of an attack, the judicial official said. None of the passengers on the canceled flights, including those questioned at the airport, were known to French intelligence authorities or found to have links with Islamic extremist groups, the official said.

French authorities also investigated a man from Tunisia whose name was supplied by American intelligence. But the judicial official said man was in Tunisia with no plans to leave for the United States. He has no criminal record and does not belong to any radical Islamic groups.

Passengers were subjected to intense searches before being told hours later that their flights had been canceled. Many were angry.

``We had to wait nearly six hours without any explanation as to what was going on. We noticed dogs and police,'' said Jean-Marie Buchet, 54, of Paris, who was traveling to Los Angeles to spend the holidays with family. ``Everyone was very irritated. We imagined it was to do with security, but they could at least have told us.''

Still, the French government portrayed the operation as an example of cooperation between France and the United States on terrorism.

``What is important is that the evaluation of threats continue, and they are undertaken between the Americans and the French in a framework of intense cooperation,'' said a spokesman for the prime minister's office. ``Franco-American cooperation in this domain is exemplary.''

Officials from the U.S. Homeland Security Department met with French officials in recent days to discuss terrorism concerns as part of an effort to get foreign airlines to provide American officials with more information about people on flights heading to the United States, a U.S. official said earlier this week.

France and Mexico were of particular concern in this regard, the official said on condition of anonymity.

On Thursday, frustrated passengers scrambled to reacher their destinations.

``I am angry,'' said Jannita Moe, a 61-year-old from Tahiti who was flying home via Los Angeles. ``You don't notify people at the last minute.''

After missing her flight, she was forced to rebook an itinerary that was to take her through South Korea and New Zealand en route to Tahiti -- a 38-hour journey.

Air France said that flights were to resume normal service Friday.

26th Dec 2003, 08:42
From: http://www.drudgereport.com/

Some passengers boarding Air France flight from Paris to Los Angeles 'intended to hijack it and crash land in Las Vegas', the WASHINGTON POST is planning to report in Page One leads on Friday, sources tell DRUDGE... officials said they 'remain suspicious about some passengers who did not show up at the airport to claim their seats on the ultimately aborted Flight 68 from Paris to Los Angeles. One of those who did not appear for the Christmas Eve flight apparently is a trained pilot'... Developing...

26th Dec 2003, 10:21
"Ummm dude, are you really a pilot? You wouldn't see the TSA untill you reported for your flight back OUT of the country.

The TSA has absolutely ZERO to do with arriving passengers"


I arr at ATL sometime ago and had to undergo all sorts of searches and qestioning...and that was AFTER I got of the flight and heading into the city

I travelled recently from DUB to LAS via LAX, just before boarding, there was a check by TSA personnel, and guess what...all those put aside for "Extra attention" where all non US Nationals.!!!, now what does that tell you

Happy Christmas to all

26th Dec 2003, 13:26
Suspicious Passengers Questioned In France
13 Were to Fly to L.A., Have Been Released

By John Mintz and John Burgess
Washington Post Staff Writers

Friday, December 26, 2003; Page A01

U.S. government officials said yesterday they believe some of the passengers boarding one of the three Air France flights from Paris to Los Angeles that were canceled this week because of security concerns might have intended to hijack it and crash-land in Las Vegas or another city along its flight path.

Police in Paris questioned 13 people who had checked in for two Air France flights that were canceled Christmas Eve because of a terrorism warning from U.S. authorities, but no evidence of wrongdoing was found, the French Interior Ministry said. All 13 were released.

But U.S. officials said they are suspicious about some of the passengers who did not show up at the airport to claim their seats on the ultimately aborted Flight 68 from Paris to Los Angeles. One of those who did not appear for the Christmas Eve flight apparently is a trained pilot, one U.S. official said.

"We still have an interest in talking to those people who didn't show up," said one U.S. official knowledgeable about the investigation. "There might be more to come on this."

Despite French statements suggesting some of the American fears about the Air France flights were unfounded, U.S. government officials said they believe they might have averted a terrorist attack by arranging for the flights' cancellation. Officials said they feared that al Qaeda operatives planned to hijack one of the flights and use the plane as a missile to attack a site on or near its route.

Moreover, U.S. officials said intelligence indicators suggest that al Qaeda might have set other terrorist operations in motion that do not involve aviation and are not centered in California. As on other occasions when terrorist fears are heightened, U.S. officials said their main concern is that al Qaeda might use a chemical or biological weapon, or a radiological "dirty" bomb.

"Our fear is that other things are going on" that have nothing to do with jetliner flights in or out of U.S. airports, said one U.S. official briefed on high-level intelligence. "The concern is that there still could be a lot of activity that was underway."

Another government official with access to the classified reports said U.S. security officials "are really concerned something major will happen" despite the cancellation of the three incoming and three outgoing Air France flights between Paris and Los Angeles on Christmas Eve and yesterday. One scenario embraced by a number of U.S. security officials is that al Qaeda operatives were in the final stages of planning an attack in this country, and were awaiting final direction from al Qaeda superiors to proceed.

"Government people hope that by deploying, they'll shut down whatever might have been in motion," the official said.

In Paris, French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin announced last night that Air France would operate its normal schedule today. . "The grounded flights can be resumed," he said in a statement.

U.S. officials have said they passed on to the French government names of travelers they suspected might try to commandeer the planes on the Paris-Los Angeles route in a terrorist attack.

Seven of the questioned people had checked in at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for Air France Flight 68 on Christmas Eve, according to a French official. He identified them as four Americans, one German, one French and one Belgian.

The people were taken aside and questioned extensively by police, the official said. Their baggage was searched. But no sign of terrorist connections was found, he said, and all had been released by 7 a.m. Paris time yesterday. Six other passengers who showed up for Flight 70 to Los Angeles were also questioned and released.

The French official played down the Air France cancellations, calling them a "nonevent." He added, "There is no danger. . . . And if there was any, specific measures would be taken."

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, U.S. civilian and military air traffic controllers on the ground scrutinize the routes flown by commercial and other aircraft to ensure they do not diverge from their flight plans. Under protocols that are strictly enforced, pilots who depart from their assigned routes are contacted by radio, and if their explanations engender suspicions, military combat aircraft could be launched to intercept them.

For this reason, U.S. officials believe it is unlikely -- though not inconceivable -- that terrorists would try to divert an Air France Paris-to-Los Angeles flight to a city far from its flight path, such as New York. The Air France flights in question cross the Hudson Bay and eastern Canada before dipping down to airspace over Minnesota, and then taking a sharp southwestern swing toward Southern California.

"The only big city near this route is Las Vegas, which they would consider a nice, attractive target," one informed government official said. But officials said Los Angeles could have been the target, too.

The al Qaeda network has long considered Las Vegas to be one of its top targets for a strike because it sees the city as a citadel of Western licentiousness, U.S. officials said. Government officials said they have known for some time that al Qaeda is interested in striking at Las Vegas.

In response to these fears, Las Vegas was one of the cities where the Department of Homeland Security in recent days installed a number of outdoor air-handling sensors designed to detect biological pathogens that might be released by terrorists. The other cities where new Biowatch sensors were installed are in California, officials said.

Before this week 31 cities across the nation, including several in California, have had several hundreds of the sensors in place since March, when the U.S. invasion of Iraq prompted an orange alert.

Government officials said they also partly based their decision to raise the alert status earlier this week on the statements of an individual knowledgeable about al Qaeda operations who apparently is offering fresh information that is deemed credible.

The cooperation -- and possible chafing -- between France and the United States in the investigation is notable because France led the European opposition to the war in Iraq, and relations with the United States remain strained. But both governments have highlighted continuing cooperation against terrorism.

The Interior Ministry official said the cancellations were good publicity for that relationship. Spokesmen for both governments said Secretary of State Colin L. Powell thanked French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin for France's help in responding to the U.S. warnings.

Both governments have worried that terrorists would try to mount a high-profile attack to disrupt the holiday season.

France is also wary of a repeat of a security slip that in December 2001 allowed Richard Reid, a British citizen, to board a Miami-bound American Airlines flight in Paris with explosives concealed in his shoes. Reid was overpowered by passengers and crew members as he attempted to light fuses of the bombs and is now serving a life sentence in the United States.

In the past two days, about 700 passengers were stranded by the flight cancellations, according to Veronique Brachet, a spokeswoman for Air France.

At Los Angeles International Airport, where security is as tight as it has ever been since the Sept. 11 attacks, some of the incoming flights of Air Tahiti Nui and Aeromexico were being given special attention, aviation sources said. Upon landing, the jets were ordered to taxi to a remote gate, where passengers were questioned and their belongings searched before they were bused to an immigration terminal.


Boss Raptor
26th Dec 2003, 16:06
OK so if we take the media literally, they are looking for passengers who's names are similar to known terrorists on the watch list...

1. Mr. Terrorist is hardly likely to be travelling on his real name or real passport now is he!?

2. If your flight has pax. who are called 'Al-' or 'Abu-' something then your flight may be pulled as their names might be suspicious

Doh ;)

26th Dec 2003, 23:34
Flame if you were arriving from abroad on 1 leg (which is what an AIRLINE pilots operating a sector would be doing, to which I initially responded) you would get to experience the joys of the INS (Immigration and Naturalization service) and Customs. Both of which would question you at length and customs would poke and prod at your stuff. Customs wear's a blue uniform. INS wears a white shirt and dark slacks and LOOKS somewhat similar to the TSA but they are not. INS can arrest you and throw you in a dark hole somewhere. TSA cannot. They simply report you to another agency.

Now if you were continuing onto another airplane AFTER you cleared Customs and INS you would get to collect your bags and experience the TSA. However Bilateral agreements and crew rest requrements make it EXTREMELY unlikely that a pilot having operated a 14 hour sector Into the USA would get to experience the TSA before heading to the hotel as claimed by Felix Lighter.

HOWEVER, SLF and wannnabes transiting a US gateway on their cheap tickets that have an interim stop? Yep, it could happen to you. Don't like it? Pop for the more expensive direct flight...


26th Dec 2003, 23:54
If they suspected that these flights were targets, why cancel them, why not put a dozen armed security guards on them and blow the crap out of anyone attempting to get near the cockpit. To me this would be more of a deterrent to the next “would be hijackers” than just canceling flights.


27th Dec 2003, 01:01

Rest assured I know the difference between the TSA and INS..and to clarify one thing...it WAS the TSA that dealt with me in ATL, and I was going straight to my hotel from the airport. I and many other pax were inspected by TSA officials and had our luggage put through X-Ray and searched, then we left the airport

Now, I for one am all for security and checking ALL pax, but I am at a total loss to understand the checking of Pax baggage AFTER you arr at ATL and are leaving the airport...I have not been back there for some time, maybe its changed now

Nollaig shona agus Athbhliain faoi mhaise.
Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year
Joyeux No'l et Bonne Année
Froehliche Weihnachten und ein gluckliches Neues Jahr
Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo
Feliz Natal e um Prospero Ano Novo
Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia or Boze Narodzenie
Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom
Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Da!

27th Dec 2003, 02:49
You quoted:

"I travelled recently from DUB to LAS via LAX, just before boarding, there was a check by TSA personnel, and guess what...all those put aside for "Extra attention" where all non US Nationals.!!!, now what does that tell you"

It tells me a bunch of people from the Middle East flew into the World Trade Centers killing 3,000 pople.


27th Dec 2003, 10:03
Things are definitely on edge here...


Suspicious Object Grounds Airline Flight


Published: December 26, 2003

Filed at 7:45 p.m. ET

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- An American Airlines flight was evacuated Friday after a flight attendant found a suspicious-looking device in the airliner. Police determined the object posed no danger.

Indianapolis International Airport officials offered no details on what the device was.

The plane touched down at 2 p.m. EST and about 60 passengers and crew were evacuated using an emergency slide because stairs brought to the plane did not fit.

American Airlines spokesman Carlo Bertolini said police and bomb-sniffing dogs boarded the plane and determined the device contained no explosives.

The flight from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Indianapolis was wrapping up when an attendant noticed an object with a string attached to it on the floor near the rear of the plane, said Dennis Rosebrough, an Indianapolis International Airport spokesman.

The attendant alerted pilots and the device was taken to the back of the plane, an MD-Super 80. Police and fire officials were on the ground waiting for the jet when it landed.

27th Dec 2003, 23:58

"It tells me a bunch of people from the Middle East flew into the World Trade Centers killing 3,000 pople."

Me thinks you have missed my point..It was very obvious to me in LAX before we boarded the flight to LAS, that the only persons being put aside for extra attention were all visiting non nationals to the US.

Now, bearing in mind.. that the United States authorities issued a Visa for one of the hijackers some weeks after the terrible events of Sept 11, when all the hijackers were known and that these peope had been living, mixing and training in the US for some months before the events.

Do you not think, that, from a security point of view that ALL pax should be subject to random extra checking and not just non US Nationals, also remember that previously to this, the single worst "terrorist" related incident in the US, was caused by Timothy McVeigh, a US Citizen. Am I also not correct in saying that at least one US Citizen was arrested by US forces in Afganistan

So come on now, no need to be sarcastic..can you not accept the fact, that all Pax should be subject to random extra checking and that not all US Citizens are perfect and above suspicion

28th Dec 2003, 00:08

ALL pax are subject to random searches no matter what you might think. There are others that are subject to madatory as well depending on the threat level and known threats at the moment. There is a profiling system in place at the moment, and though it is watered down it is better than the pure random we had before where you had 90 year old hasidic grandmothers getting strip searched...


28th Dec 2003, 00:35
The TSA has the final say-so in these matters. Two pilots at BWIA ended up on the list, were interviewed and cleared by the FBI and INS in short order, but were finally sent to detention at their respective hotels nearly 12 hours after being cleared by FBI and INS, because the TSA could not decide if to clear them or not. One of them was on a turnaround flight, due out in 3 hours. They are still in detention and are unlikely to get off the "no-fly" list before Monday when everybody comes back out to work.


From Trinidad Guardian Dec 27th

"T&T officials working to clear BWIA pilots

Steps are under way to clear the names of two BWIA pilots who were questioned by FBI and United States aviation officials earlier this week, after their names appeared on a “no-fly” list in the USA.

T&T diplomatic missions in Washiington DC and New York are working with US officials.

Capt Wight and First Officer Joseph, who both have more than 25 years’ experience, were reportedly taken in for questioning after Wight piloted a Miami flight on Wednesday and Joseph flew into New York on Christmas morning.

They were detained for two hours and had their passports seized.

BWIA corporate communications manager Clint Williams said the situation would be resolved shortly.

“We are confident the men will return soon,” he said.

“The FBI has given us the all-clear to talk with the US Department of Homeland Security to take the pilots’ names off the list.”

Williams said the “no-fly” list was a roster of people not allowed to fly in and out of America because of the country’s security concerns.

US officials have been examining passenger and crew lists of flights into America amid concerns of a possible terror attack involving commercial airlines.

Williams said the “no-fly” list changed continuously, and BWIA was only aware of the pilots being on the list when they flew in.

Joseph has more than 30 years’ experience and was granted permission to move around Manhattan.

Wight has 25 years’ experience, and is reportedly allowed to move around only the Miami hotel where he is located.

Williams said BWIA would not be reprimanded by US aviation for having two of their pilots on the list.

He said the T&T consul in Washington was also petitioning the US Department of Homeland Security to have the pilots’ names removed from the list. "

28th Dec 2003, 00:41

OK..I will give you the last word, in that..you feel that all pax are subject to random searches, as long as they are non US Citizens!!

28th Dec 2003, 01:08
Now, I for one am all for security and checking ALL pax, but I am at a total loss to understand the checking of Pax baggage AFTER you arr at ATL and are leaving the airport...It depends on the terminal layout. If it is necessary for arriving international pax to pass through a secured area on the way out of the airport, then they will be screened by the TSA before being allowed to enter the secured area. At ATL, the train to the exit stops at all the concourses. Bags must be re-examined as they are accessible while clearing customs. Yeah, I know it's a stretch but what else is new ?

Seattle had the same system, but now has a dedicated train which does not stop enroute. Destination pax are no longer screened.

28th Dec 2003, 02:19
Leader: Terrorists Planned To Attack Vatican On Christmas

Security Tightened Around Vatican In Recent Weeks

POSTED: 10:05 AM EST December 27, 2003
UPDATED: 10:28 AM EST December 27, 2003

ROME -- Terrorists planned to attack the Vatican with a hijacked plane on Christmas Day, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said in a newspaper interview published Saturday.

Berlusconi told Milan's Libero newspaper of a "precise and verified news of an attack on Rome on Christmas Day."

"A hijacked plane into the Vatican," Berlusconi is quoted as saying. "An attack from the sky, is that clear? The threat of terrorism is very high in this instant. I passed Christmas Eve in Rome to deal with the situation. Now I feel calm. It will pass."

He added, "It isn't fatalism, but the knowledge of having our guard up. If they organized this, they will not pull it off."

Berlusconi gave no further details in the interview about who the intended hijackers were, where the information came from and how the attack was thwarted.

Security has been tightened around the Vatican in recent weeks amid reports that churches could become terrorist targets. During Christmas celebrations, Italian police guarded the perimeter of the vast St. Peter's Square and pilgrims entering the basilica passed through metal detectors.

The Vatican refused Saturday to respond to questions about a possible Christmas threat...


surely not
28th Dec 2003, 06:07
Awww come on guys, so far the list is:

3 x AF flights
1 x plane to crash into the Vatican
Las Vegas and Los Angeles threatened
La Guardia terminal evacuated
Security everywhere up to maximum
Reports that Africa will be the launch pad for an attack by Hijacking.
Rumours of 'dirty bombs' being made ready.

and on and on it goes with Airbubba reporting every rumour and whisper.

Life cannot be run by responding to every bit of tittle tattle. I do wonder whether the current rash of alerts have anything to do with Bush and Blair trying to get an increasingly anti public over Iraq back on side.

Sure we cannot be complacent, but for heavens sake we have to have a more subjective way of grading the threat. Mind you the security services took such a kicking after 9/11 for not seeing the signs that I can have some sympathy for their reluctance to play down any threat.

Edited to remove last paragraph which was irrelevant and likely to divert the thread from topic.

29th Dec 2003, 11:54
Flame and Wino

You chaps may well both be right, in your own ways.

For what it's worth, I can confirm that international arrivals at ATL's concourse E are required to be re-screened before being let loose into the airport proper, so to speak.

That involves baggage screening, metal detector and (typically) de-shoeing. And the work is carried out by TSA-uniformed people.

This has been the case since at least March 2003 (when I first experienced it) and the current month (when I last experienced it). Prolly goes without saying that domestic arrivals (in my experience, anyway) don't go through this procedure.

It may be of interest to say that since my first and second experiences of this, there has been an expansion of the hardware within the area where this occurs. Last March I recall waiting in line for almost 45 minutes to give my fellow pax a whiff of my smelly socks, but earlier this month it appeared that there were not one, but three, security stations (replete with all the machines and operators) at the front of the line. The wait was just a minute or two (though I arrived at an off-peak time, to be fair).

I hope this is of interest to you. Here's what's of interest to me: Why carry out such security checks on arriving pax whose final destination is ATL?

All good wishes.

31st Dec 2003, 02:43
Looks like the Mexicans got with the program...


``Whatever request they make, we will adopt immediately,'' Mexicana spokesman Adolfo Crespo said.

Security Agents on Mexican Flights to U.S.


Published: December 30, 2003

Filed at 2:04 p.m. ET

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Armed Mexican security agents have been on board certain flights to the United States since last week under an agreement reached with the United States before it publicly announced that it would require international carriers to take the measure, a cabinet member said Tuesday.

Mexico also is in talks with Canada about putting guards aboard flights to that country, Public Safety Secretary Alejandro Gertz told Mexican radio stations. Gertz was not available for a personal interview, a spokesman for his office said.

The agents form part of the Special Operations Group of the Federal Preventive Police and use weapons with special ammunition designed to avoid a loss of pressure in airplane cabins when fired, Gertz said.

The decision to put agents on board certain flights ``stems from a series of talks that the Mexican government has had with the U.S. government, and we also have been working with the government of Canada'' on a similar arrangement, Gertz said.

The United States on Monday announced that it was requiring some international flights crossing over or headed to the United States to carry armed law enforcement officers to protect commercial airplanes against terrorist attack.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge issued the new directive, which gives the U.S. government the option of denying access to U.S. airspace to airlines that don't cooperate.

Gertz declined to say how many police have participated in the Mexican program or what flights they accompanied, citing security reasons.

Interior Secretary Santiago Creel told reporters on Monday that while Mexico had not received a formal request from the United States to put agents on planes, the country would do so in special circumstances as part of its ongoing cooperation with the United States in the fight against terrorism.

Three major Mexican airlines, Aeromexico, Mexicana and Aviacsa, said Tuesday that they would comply with security measures put in place by national and international officials.

``Whatever request they make, we will adopt immediately,'' Mexicana spokesman Adolfo Crespo said.

Flight attendant unions on Tuesday expressed concern over possible threats to safety posed by having armed guards on board.

On Monday, the spokesman for the national pilots' union, Francisco Esquivelzeta, said that Mexican guards were already on certain flights, but police officials did not confirm the information immediately.


31st Dec 2003, 07:30
Looks like the Italians think the threat is real:

Italy bans flights over Rome

ROME, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The Italian authorities Tuesday banned flights over Rome until Jan. 6 as a security measure against terrorist attack, the Italian news agency Ansa reported.

This was part of a heightened state of alert in Italy, Ansa said.

On Dec. 24, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told a local Milan paper that terrorists had planned to crash a hijacked plane into the Vatican on Christmas Day.

The paper published no details, and there was no attack. But Ansa said the alert continues.

In Germany, security at a Hamburg military air base was tightened following U.S. warnings that Islamic militants planned a suicide bomb attack.

The U.S. air base near Frankfurt was also on high alert, Ansa reported.


31st Dec 2003, 10:25
I hope this is of interest to you. Here's what's of interest to me: Why carry out such security checks on arriving pax whose final destination is ATL?

Like your self, done that journey many times from MAN. Been through the same rigmarole at ATL, DFW, and CVG. In ATL, once out of terminal ‘E’ immigration, you’re within the secure perimeter of the airport. Free train ride takes you to any terminal you wish without further inspection – same route as required to leave out the front door.

Inter- terminal (Flight Connections) transfer at LHR is exactly the same. Has been since before 11/9.

31st Dec 2003, 21:01
After having flown trans-atlantic to the US more or less since 1986, and having spent a lot of time there previously, I am very much fed up with the security "hassles" that we are being subjected to.
Add to that the insufferable US TV media on the layover and suddenly Prozac is probably to mild to alleviate the frustration.

I am therefore quite fortunate to have gotten a new assignment (on my bidding) with my company, based in Europe.

Flying to the Caribbean, S-America, Africa and yes even the Middle-East. Grreat!

To my US friends, I say: "I shall return", it might take me a few years as it did Gen.McArthur, when the Bush regime is long gone and the redneck BS blows over


31st Dec 2003, 22:00
Over here in the UK, we have banned all jump seat travel; only those that are part of the operating crew are allowed on the flight deck. The FAA forced this ruling upon us.

It is ludicrous that when I return from my holidays, I'm unable to occupy the jump seat on one of our company aircraft that I’m type rated on, despite having flown that exact aircraft the previous week, into the same destination!

Can any of my "cousins" from the other side of the pond confirm that you are working to the same set of rules?

31st Dec 2003, 22:29
Man I just love when everyone blames the USA for every little thing. I guess its just the latest form of ignorance and bigotry :rolleyes:.

The only thing the USA can effect is on flights to and from the USA. We have absolutely no say over what would happen on a flight to or from any other two countries in the world that doesn't flight through American airspace. Could it be that MAYBE, just MAYBE others in your government have felt that some of the precautions just might be sensible after all?

Furthermore the jumpseat is still available in the USA to ANY pilot working for the same company. The jumpseat has been restricted to only pilots from our companies now, we can't offer it to pilots of another airline untill the universal ID gets approved so that we can verify that yes infact they are pilots for another airline. So if pilots of your own airline have been banned from your own jumpseat, that was most likely by some spitefull little beaurocrat in your own company that was jealous of you or wanted to make sure that pilots didn't get some extra "perk".

Just to repeat for all the ignorant out there, As an American Airlines pilots I can ride the Jumpseat of ANY of the 800+ (yes over 800 large aircraft) aircraft that American Airlines operate from the MD-80 to the 777 regardless of whether I am typed or have ever operated the aircraft. I am not sure about the 400 or so Aircraft at American Eagle, but I think those as a seperate airline (even though owned by AA) are probably off limits for the moment but I might be wrong.


31st Dec 2003, 23:41
Wino, calm yourself down.

I believe the British Government/DOT have sadly passed rulings without really thinking them through. Being typically British, we will abide by these rules whilst many other countries continue unregulated, and in breach of the rules.

I believe the jump seat policy was dictated by the FAA to CAA operators wanting to operate into the US. We were told that we were no longer permitted to offer the jumpseat to crew unless they were on duty.

If I understand you correctly, you are able to occupy a jumpseat on one of your company aircraft in and out of the US whilst not operating. Very sensible. I am not afforded the same privilege on one of my company aircraft, because the FAA won't allow it. This is where I have an axe to grind. There's are one set of rules for one and another set for the States.

Further to that, the Secretary of State through the DofT has now dictated that this ruling will stand for all flights operated by UK airlines, regardless of destination. This ruling was implemented despite the objection of many UK airlines. It was not a decision made at a company level. I don't blame the US for this, but why have two sets of rules?


PS. Any chance of your next post being a little less condescending and patronizing?

1st Jan 2004, 00:07
Just saw on BBC news website that a Brazilian judge has ordered that as of January 1st all US passportholders travelling to Brazil will be photographed and fingerprinted, just the same as the US intends to do to foreign travellers requiring visas.

Way to go Brazil!!! I hope more countries follow suit and that for US carriers and tourists other countries will adopt tit for tat measures to counter US demands.

That will be the only way to stop the endless new demands and bs coming from that direction. A separate immigration and customs channel for Americans would probably have someone screaming in Washington!

1st Jan 2004, 00:14

I just told you that the FAA DOES allow you to ride the jumpseat of your own airline's aircraft. What you cannot do is allow family members or other staff members to ride your jumpseat. ONLY PILOTS.

Again, I will type it slowly, THE FAA HAS NOT FORBIDDEN PILOTS OF AN AIRLINE FROM RIDING THEIR OWN JUMPSEAT. The regulations require that you verify that anyone on your jumpseat is infact a pilot for your company. Presumably your company issues you an ID that proves that you work for the company and that there is some method of controll so that you know the ID is valid (expiration dates or checking records on presentation of such ID) If those conditions are met you can ride the jumpseat of your own airline.

So once again you have just said that the FAA will not allow it, and I have just told you that infact that is FALSE... Its not the FAA doing it to you mate... There is no such prohibition. The prohibition has come from the CAA or your own government but not the FAA. Maybe someone in YOUR government is miffed that they can't ride a jumpseat on holiday anymore and decided to get even with you, but it was not by FAA regulation that a pilot cannot ride his own airline's jumpseat.

Ocean crosser,

Good for them. A sensible precaution in todays day and age! I hope more countries do it. Whats the point of having all this technology if you don't USE it! I wish Europe would do the same. Might catch some terrorists at the border...


West Coast
1st Jan 2004, 03:06
Some how I just am not offended by the actions of the judge in Brazil. I see it as a legitimate action of a sovereign state. Sorry if I am not put out as you would like.

Can you offer conclusive proof that the FAA (or other US entity) is at the heart of your jumpseat problem. Is this the stuff urban legends are made of, or is there a basis of fact for it? Do you really buy into an idea that the FAA won't let you jumpseat in the UK?
I also can jumpseat in the actual on hundreds of aircraft in the US, in the back on thousands more. There is a program in the works that the ATA is pushing to restore the actual jumpseat to offline pilots.

5th Jan 2004, 15:19
Lets keep crying wolf. We have created aan industry that grows by the day. People had more rights under the nazi govt. All of this is just a power trip for some of the selected few "protectors" that must justify their jobs. Do people really believe that any of tis works?

John Farley
5th Jan 2004, 17:11
From AvFlash 10.02A

FBI Hunts For Al-Qaida Pilot "Mole"

A British newspaper says FBI fears that an al-Qaida operative may be working as a pilot for a British airline are behind flight cancellations last week. The Daily Mirror says American investigators will screen all British pilots flying to the U.S. to try and root out the suspected mole. The paper quotes unnamed sources as saying the infiltrator intends to crash a planeload of people into the White House, Pentagon or Capitol building. Brian Doyle, a senior official with the Department of Homeland Security, confirmed the suspicions. "The intelligence is telling us there are some forms of infiltration from al-Qaida. We are looking hard into it." The worldwide alert has security officials on edge, as passengers on a Paris-bound Air France flight found out on New Year's Day. They ended up spending three hours in St. John's, Newfoundland, after a mix-up at Kennedy Airport resulted in an unaccompanied suitcase getting on the plane. A passenger cancelled his flight after being told he'd have to pay for extra baggage and when his luggage was pulled from the plane, one bag was left behind. "It really goes to show what a minor thing can do," said Rex Ledrew, president of the St. John's International Airport Authority. Meanwhile, Sweden and New Zealand have so far refused to put armed marshals on flights to the U.S. The Swedes say they'll cancel flights if there's a security threat. Italy has banned flights over Rome until Tuesday.

6th Jan 2004, 02:51
>>A British newspaper says FBI fears that an al-Qaida operative may be working as a pilot for a British airline are behind flight cancellations last week. The Daily Mirror says American investigators will screen all British pilots flying to the U.S. to try and root out the suspected mole.<<

Wonder if the crews will be fingerprinted and photographed? I certainly hope so, given the nature of the threat. I was fingerprinted and photographed after 9-11 even though I had an active security clearance and had been vetted many times.

Hey, I had my temperature taken the other day in Asia as a crewmember, I didn't whimper that they were trying to undermine U.S. sovereignty. My image was recorded on countless airport and hotel surveillance cameras and I didn't invoke images of Nazi Germany. Somehow, it's just not that big of an issue in the real world. Not having tight security is a big issue as we have learned the hard way. Now it's time to close the barn door that lets the bad guys get into the U.S. (and the UK) undetected.

Balpa will huff and puff, and moan and groan, but will comply with U.S. security procedures as they always have in the past. Remember all the geniuses here who said a couple of years ago that they would never lock their cockpit door?

6th Jan 2004, 04:09
My understanding is that all visa holders will be fingerprinted and photographed. All carriers' pilots and cabin crew hold US visas, whatever their country of origin, if they work in and out of the US, so they will all be fingerprinted and photographed.

6th Jan 2004, 04:19
>>My understanding is that all visa holders will be fingerprinted and photographed. All carriers' pilots and cabin crew hold US visas, whatever their country of origin, if they work in and out of the US, so they will all be fingerprinted and photographed.<<

Not exactly, there are exemptions. Also, not all operating crewmembers are required to hold U.S. visas, they can enter and leave on the General Declaration.


List of Those Exempt From U.S. Air Rules

Published: January 5, 2004

Filed at 3:01 p.m. ET

Citizens from 27 countries can travel to the United States without a visa and are exempt from being fingerprinted and photographed at U.S. airports and seaports under a new anti-terrorism program the Homeland Security Department started Monday.

Those foreigners can enter the United States with passports for business or pleasure for up to 90 days. To travel for other purposes or to stay longer, they must have a visa and would be subject to the checks for other arriving foreigners under the new US-VISIT program.

By October, visitors from the exempt countries must have a machine-readable passport to enter the United States. If not, they will be required to have a visa and will be subject to US-VISIT checks.

The countries are:

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Portugal and Singapore.

Different rules apply for Canada and Mexico. Canadians are allowed into the country simply by providing proof of citizenship. Mexicans can apply for a permit to travel in the United States for up to three days provided they stay within 25 miles of the border. If they want to stay longer or travel further, they must obtain a visa.