View Full Version : Heathrow: Man Held Over 'Ammunition'

14th Jan 2004, 22:20
From Yahoo news 14/1/04


Police are questioning a Sudanese man arrested at Heathrow airport in possession of "suspected ammunition".Airport operator BAA said security processes had detected the man, who had flown in from Washington DC and was intending to fly on to Dubai.The arrest follows American insistence that armed sky marshals should travel on some US-bound planes after security concerns over the festive period.

The man was arrested under the Firearms Act and not under anti-terror laws.

Police sources said he was not a known terrorist suspect.

Virgin Atlantic confirmed the man was a 45-year-old passenger on its Washington to London VS022 flight.

In a statement, the airline said: "The safety and welfare of our passengers and crew is Virgin Atlantic's top priority.

"The item seized did not pose a threat to our aircraft. Screening of passengers at Washington Dulles airport is the responsibility of the Transportation Security Administration."

The US request that air marshals should travel on some flights was followed by repeated disruption to BA's London to Washington BA223 flight.

The British airline pilot's union Balpa, which opposes the air marshals plan, said the incident proved that security on the ground was what was most needed.

A spokesman said: "Obviously there will be a lot of questions asked in America as to how he got on the plane undetected."

14th Jan 2004, 22:43
This story does make you wonder about how effective the security screening is in the US. :(

14th Jan 2004, 23:14
LT, your post is exactly what went through my head on reading the article.

If I am missing something please correct me, but didn't the guy get on the VS flight in the US with the articles that he was arrested for. With all the b*ll**** that has been thrown about over the past couple of weeks, what possibly could the passenger have been carrying that would have passed through US security, yet led to his arrest in the UK.

For all the "willie waving" US security has been doing of late, coupled with some of their requests (toilet queues etc....), somebody has got egg on their face.

14th Jan 2004, 23:28
"Washington Dulles airport is the responsibility of the Transportation Security Administration."

Booze is easy, Cordite too difficult.....no doubt all the fault of security chief's absence in jail for drunk driving.
No doubt if VA crew were carrying, it would have been detected after Pax had boarded and SWAT team would decimate the aircraft......more bollocks from our allies.

Oscar Duece
14th Jan 2004, 23:38
I think some parts of the US baggage screening are a joke, often implimented just to say they are doing something.

I was on MYT048 at the weekend, Sanford to Lgw. I check in with 2 bags. There is a notice at check in advising passengers to remove locks from bags, as random chechs are in progress and locked cases / bags could cause delay or damage.
My thoughts wondered about someone being able to steal my contents or worse a baggage handler who wasn't screened for his job or when he goes airside every day, smuggling something in my unlocked bags.
On arriving at Lgw and collecting my bags (over 40 minutes after getting off the plane) I fing my expensive lock has been cut off my holdall bag and a security zip tie put in its place. (brocked lock was inside with a note about random checks and tough **** etc.)
It turns out that about 10 % of the bags had been opended and checked at Sanford.

Do I have a problem with checks, no I want the best security when I travel. What I am unhappy about is that these checks are totally random, not based on any x-ray information. Why else would they search my holdall bag with dirty washing, but not my abs case that contained 4 aircraft brake cylinders, a parking valve, 8 dehydration plugs and some rudder pedals. What must they have looked like on the x-ray.

To me this looks like a case of being seen to do something rather that doing something meaningful.

Note: Does anyone know what happened on MYt047 on boxing day. Why he had to hold over philly for an hour (causing a divert to Norfolk vir. for fuel). What a sleepy little place that was.

15th Jan 2004, 00:04
Is there any possible excuse other than "Duh, we stuffed up!"

15th Jan 2004, 00:18
Well it does totally prove the point that you have to get security sorted on the ground...both in terms of pax/baggage screening and the area around airports to reduce the risk missiles etc.

It is even more surprising that he got through security even though he was from a country that has been linked with terrorist activity in the past and was travelling on from London to an Arab state! So this wasn't an 'innocent' 82 year old grandmother from Miami.

Looks like the TSA have been fannying around with sky marshall seating plans and what food they're gonna eat in-flight rather than the real security issues. Like many of my good friends in the States have said "there are plenty of have-a-go pax now a days" so time to concentrate more on ground security

15th Jan 2004, 00:36
....TSA and FBI let him get through just to check British antiterrorist controls...

Now they are upgraded from RED to ORANGE (don't forget you have many color barriers to pass until you reach GREEN!)

15th Jan 2004, 00:51
Gramps................of course! Why didn't I think of that!

Of course, the Sky Marshall would have been keeping a close eye on him.

15th Jan 2004, 02:54
Where's Wino's reply? Perhaps he's still deliberating.

15th Jan 2004, 04:42
When God is on your side you NEVER deliberate!

Speed of Sound
15th Jan 2004, 05:22
And how many .......

times was Flight 233 to Washington Dulles, cancelled or delayed at the insistance of US security!

And they want to go to Mars!!!


15th Jan 2004, 05:23
BAA security to take over all US airport security....someone has to show them how to do it properly! Bet we dont hear so much sabre-rattling from our American cousins now about how good they are.........
If it wasn't such a serious lapse of security we could be laughing. Mind you, a snigger goes a long way!

15th Jan 2004, 05:27
BBC have reported in 10 o'clock news that the man concerend has now been re-arrested under anti-terrorism laws following questioning at a central london police station. They have 48 hours to charge or release him, but if my memory serves me right, they may apply to the Home Secretary for an extension to hold him for up to one week without charge for further questioning.

All very very embarrassing and concerning for the US. I should think the likes of Virgin and BA will be asking some very very searching questions of the authorities at Washington Dulles.

When will the US finally get its airport security in order?

15th Jan 2004, 05:36
Its just been announced on the BBC 10 o'clock news that the man previously arrested after been found to be carrying live ammunition at Heathrow Airport has been rearrested.
This time he has been arrested under the Anti-Terrorism Laws.
Presumedly to allow the authorities to hold him for longer to question him.

This incident suggests that the American Security Services need to take a look at their own competence before they start telling other countries how they should operate.At least it proves that all the experience we have gained combating terrorism over the years is still proving to be successful

We can still teach the Yanks a thing or to.

15th Jan 2004, 05:50
Yup, another triumph for US security. :(

The only thing that surprises me is the lack of Yanks on this thread defending Uncle Sam's honour and blaming it all on the rest of the world.

15th Jan 2004, 05:53
Well, it looks like we got his photo and fingerprints before the Americans - and we did it without sky marshalls!

15th Jan 2004, 05:59
The Sudanese bloke probably walked straight through whilst the TSA t*****s were strip searching the crew.

Nice one Uncle Sam, pardon me whilst I check how many people are queueing for a crap!

Any more great ideas?

Speed of Sound
15th Jan 2004, 06:15
When will the US finally get its airport security in order?

When blind panic, paranoia and PR-led initiatives are replaced by cool thinking and a rational overview of the whole situation.


15th Jan 2004, 06:31
Singapore Defence

"Did you pack this suitcase yourself"

" Yes Your Honour"

"Please explain the 'white powder'"

"Transit through US of A - by their regs had to leave case unlocked yoyr honour"

15th Jan 2004, 06:44
Come on Wino, Donkey Duke et al, we're desperate to know how a waddling twenty-stone cowboy wannabe would have solved this one......

15th Jan 2004, 08:17
Who gives a ***** if he had a couple of rounds? So long as he (or an accomplice) didn't have a means of effective discharge. (Yes, yes, I know I'm exhibiting laid back characteristics not befitting one of my years & experience but WTF!)

Re "Don't lock your baggage" Totally agree with most comments. Absolute bollocks! I like my baggage LOCKED. If security wish to open it then they are more than welcome to do so - in MY presence.

And thats on just two beers!!

Final 3 Greens
15th Jan 2004, 13:39
Before we get too carried away, although it is understandable given some of the pontification from certain people, has anyone considered if he could have recevied the ammunition from a third party when airside at Heathrow and then got caught in a transit check?

West Coast
15th Jan 2004, 14:49
Yo all you pompous limeys, read about your far superior security here.
The US has long way to go and could likely learn from something your lot but I wouldn't hold your model up as some great achievement.

Must be a misunderstanding, that can't happen with UK airport security security on duty. (http://www.airlinequality.com/news/news_extra/edit_1102.htm)

impossible (http://www.landfield.com/isn/mail-archive/2002/Feb/0083.html)

Oh drat, not again (http://www.union-network.org/uniproperty.nsf/0/07483bed61e7c36bc1256b5d00281e6c?OpenDocument)

still pompous? (http://news.airwise.com/stories/2002/02/1014380928.html)

just a few days ago (http://iccoventry.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200nationalnews/content_objectid=13782565_method=full_siteid=50003_headline=-TV-news-crew-breach-airport-security-name_page.html)

tell me again about the far superior security you have (http://iccoventry.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200nationalnews/content_objectid=13782565_method=full_siteid=50003_headline=-TV-news-crew-breach-airport-security-name_page.html)

got some work to do? (http://news.airwise.com/stories/2002/02/1014380928.html)

A five second search on yahoo yielded all of these plus plenty more (http://news.airwise.com/stories/2002/02/1014380928.html)

What the heck, as long as your reading, check this one out also.

no one is immune (http://www.axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/printer_3408.shtml)

15th Jan 2004, 14:55
That's very good West Coast.

Not all of us are Limeys!

And if you re-read all the posts, aside from one, there is no-body suggesting that UK security procedures should be adopted by one and all. The reaction is a simple one..........given what has been happening over the past couple of weeks reference security in the US. And listing incidents certainly equates the the school yard bully whining "Oh Miss, Miss..........he did it too!! Look!"

WTF do you guys always have to turn it into a competition?

15th Jan 2004, 15:08
Please,Let's not all jump on the "I told you so " bandwagon. It's not going to help us as crewmembers. We all want better security both on the ground and in the air. Lets face it, the Americans are on a very steep learning curve with all this. Can we not cut them some slack? Winding each other up in NOT goiung to help our cause. Why not direct some anger to the real culprits in all of this- the terrorists that directly changed our way of travelling life as we know it?

15th Jan 2004, 15:27
Excuse my lack on knowledge of guns but the thought has crossed my mind....

I know the sky marshals are going to use low velocity bullets that "damage people but not planes" rather than 'normal' ammunition, but could someone take potent ammunition on the aircraft, find the sky marshal get his gun and use ammunition which could cause problems? :{

15th Jan 2004, 15:40
What if the gun to fire the rounds was to be placed on board ahead of time by cleaners, catering etc.
Quite possible.
But it would be just as easy to place a loaded gun their also.
But I cannot imagine any mistake or excuse for him to have live rounds on his person.

Civil Servant
15th Jan 2004, 15:57
Mike J,

BBC news last night suggested it was different types of ammunition. Maybe you're onto something here!!

15th Jan 2004, 16:34
This is extremely bad news, because they will use it as an excuse to justify ever more paranoid and irrational behaviour.

15th Jan 2004, 16:43
What a mockery.
It will be interesting to hear what the bearded one has to say about all of this.!

15th Jan 2004, 16:47
When he comes up before the beak, what are the chances that his defence will be "I saw them fall out of a skymarshall's pocket on the plane. I picked them up to give them back but the man rushed away saying he had another plane to catch.";) ;) ;)


15th Jan 2004, 17:08
With the proviso that in this case no amount of crew checking would have picked this up, it just highlights the fact that we must ALL be on our guard ALL of the time.
Still very worrying times :ugh:
Sorry to sound alarmist but remember the terrorist's credo, "We (the terrorist's) only have to get lucky once, You (the targets) have to be lucky all of the time".

Let's be careful out there!

El Grifo
15th Jan 2004, 17:30
Personally speaking, I dunno what all the fuss is about.

The rounds were probably a free gift which fell out of his copy of Guns n' Ammo which he bought airside.

No doubt he was taking them home to his kids as a souvenir from the USA.

Poor fellow !!!

:8 :cool: :8

15th Jan 2004, 18:26
I'm interested in the comments about Sanford near the beginning of this thread.

One of my colleague's mates has just been found dead of a drug overdose. He was 42 and it turned out he was a secret heroin addict.

He had travelled to Florida (Miami) on business and had returned some 12 hours before he was found dead -- sadly by his son.

The police were called. They searched his suitcase from the trip which was still packed.

In the case they found 10 stun guns (more like zappers actually) and two flick knives.

Maybe Florida has a problem with their security folks. This is not anti-U.S. rhetoric, but apparently the police were horrified when they found the weapons and were going to try and find out why this bloke had not been caught at the airport.

We may hear more about this.

15th Jan 2004, 20:45
It is now well over 2 years since 911. The USA has had plenty time enough to get its airport security in order and get up with the "learning curve". I would suggest with reference to the learning "curve" the USA is still below transistion altitude whilst the "curve" is up at about FL350.

15th Jan 2004, 21:05
From TODAY's Washington Post:

Screening Easier for Air Travelers (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A18166-2004Jan14.html)

Well done the TSA

15th Jan 2004, 22:00
The experience in Sanford was mirrored in LAX for European departures last Thursday. In this instance the crew suitcases were required to be unlocked and left with baggage security screening personnel.
When questioned about the "did you leave this suitcase unattended etc type concerns" cabin crew were told that if they were refusing to have bags security checked Homeland security would be called.
The potential for some potential terrorist to exploit the situation in which bags are constantly left unlocked is surely something which must be of concern.

15th Jan 2004, 22:13
Having sat down and thought about the problems of security at places like Dulles, I can only conclude that it must be a nightmare. As I recall it, at Dulles, departing passengers and arriving passengers are in close proximity to each other in the terminal. The terminal used by Virgin is the big long one a bus ride away from security, joined by an escalator and with free access from, I believe to a smaller terminal used by smaller aircraft . This means for example someone arriving from some little place in the middle of nowhere with 1 plane a day and potentially less of a security consious environment could easily meet someone due to depart somewhere else and pass 'what ever' to them. Taking it further, the 'what ever' could, I guess have come from one side of the US to the other, being handed from bad guy to bad guy and having been through just one sleepy xray machine in hicksville before . . . Well, lets not go there.

What is the answer ?

How about xray machines on each gate ?

How about changing the regime in which departing and arriving passengers can mingle in the terminal?

I bet these would be too expensive, so instead lets bluster about, throwing our weight around hasseling everyone else so the public feels something is being done.

West Coast
15th Jan 2004, 22:34
I don't know where you hail from but its the double standard some of the limeys on this board use that requires me to remind them they are no better. I think one of the links doesn't work and thats a shame becuase its to a breach that took place just this month. It shows Brit security isn't very good. Do you see any of that here, nope its all about the Americans. In my couple of years here I have seen a trend in which the limeys love to shovel it out but have a hard time taking it themselves. Be it politics(start a thread about NI and see) social issues or anything else. I guess its easier to find the worst in others rather than looking to yourself. I wonder if any of these recent Brit breaches even made PPRUNE?

15th Jan 2004, 23:16
The last time there was a threat this serious to British civil aircraft or merchant shipping - the second world war - we set up our own security apparatus in the USA (British Security Co-ordination) to look for saboteurs and shipping spies. (When they found one, they occasionally used the boss(Sir William Stephenson, a Canadian millionaire)'s mafia contacts to dispose of the swine.)

Well, anyone got a better idea?

15th Jan 2004, 23:29
Hey fellow Limey's

Have you noticed how this story which was headline news on all outlets yesterday has just vanished from the news today.

Weird !!

Ooops I take it back - found this low down on Sky News Site


An investigation was under way in the United States after a passenger allegedly carried ammunition on a flight from Washington to London.

The 45-year-old Sudanese-born passenger was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of terrorism offences.

He was taken from Heathrow airport to a central London police station to be questioned by anti-terrorist branch officers.

He was initially held for allegedly carrying bullets as he went through a routine security check in transit to board a connecting flight to Dubai.

Scotland Yard said he was later arrested under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which refers to the alleged involvement in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.

He had not been picked up by security at Washington's Dulles airport, where he boarded Virgin flight VS022.

The man was missed there despite the route between London and Washington having been publicly identified as a potential target for terrorists in recent weeks.

A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, responsible for airport security in America, confirmed that an investigation had been launched.

15th Jan 2004, 23:31
West Coast,

I do respect what you say about the double standards (BTW, I'm Australian, and always love a bit of Pommie bashing........and getting it back ;) ).

However, I don't subscribe to the "Well, you're just as bad (or worse) than us" argument, especially reference an issue such as this. Security breaches like this are concerning, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that even without a weapon, ammunition can be dangerous.

West Coast
16th Jan 2004, 00:51
If you are referring to the traitor/hero thread then you need to reread. I stated an opinion that an American soldier was negligent in his duties. Your findings are a bit non sequitor considering the episode had nothing to do with you limeys.

All I ask is fair treatment. You limeys love to pile on the US but gloss over on your problems in the same area. Just a few weeks ago a gun was carried right through security in the UK(see link) and it gets no play here. I am the first to say the US needs more work in the area of security. I am a pilot who has to deal with US security far more than any of you will ever know.

16th Jan 2004, 01:15
I suspect the reason for this alleged "limey smugness" is because Britain doesn't run around the world telling countries that have better security how to do their jobs.......

People in glass houses should not throw stones.

Interesting that one of West Coast's articles includes this quote:

Last November, President George W. Bush vowed "permanent and
aggressive steps" to bolster security in the U.S. with stronger
cockpit doors, armed marshals on planes, better technology and the
hiring of 28,000 federal baggage screeners within a year.

"The U.S. is making a lot of fuss but very few orders have been made
for any new equipment and the ultimate goal of having 100 percent
baggage screening in place by the end of the year isn't going to
happen," Yates said.

"The industry has been guilty of going for high-profile security,
bolting the front door but leaving the back door wide open. There are
any number of U.S. airfields where the perimeter security is downright

and the same gentleman has said this today:

"There is an impression with all the rhetoric that the US now has the best security in the world and it can stop anything any time. But it didn't stop a bunch of ammunition getting on a plane from Washington to London.

"We are still, in this country, way ahead of the US in terms of security and a lot of what has been done in the US amounts to smoke and mirrors.

"The US has made a rush to judgment with its security, it hasn't looked at best practice elsewhere. It decided on a model based on what some in this industry believe is a flawed approach."

Unfortunately, our beloved leader does not have the spine nor the balls to tell the Americans that we should never take any lessons from them on security.

16th Jan 2004, 02:19
I cannot believe that the USA still does not have 100% baggage screening. We had this in the UK for checked luggage even before Lockerbie, although at that time transfer baggage was not x-rayed which was how the bomb got onto the aircraft.

We also have proper airport layout so that arriving and departing passengers cannot mix (something which apparently even a major airport in the US capital still does not have) and pax transferring have to be re-screened. The problem with the US is that always takes other peoples constructive criticism as some sort of personal attack.

Whatever you think regarding the BA Washington flight security situation over the Christmas period, I did, in my opinion, send a strong message to the terrorists as to what they can expect if we get a whiff that they maybe up to something. Sadly this latest fiasco has shown them once again just how easy it would be for them......

16th Jan 2004, 09:58
West Coast

Back in Dec. 1989 I was going home for Christmas after spending 6 months working in The States. While shuttling around the SE U.S. passing through all of the major airports in Fla,Ga,NC,SC,Lou,Ala and even Tx both as a passenger and posn.ing or op.ing aircrew. I NEVER once passed through an Xray machine and encountered 'minimilistic' security. It was a stark contrast from the UK/European enviroment I had experienced and judged as 'the norm'. After flying from the MIA to LGW then on a domestic flight from LHR-IOM the same day, I encountered 2 Xray machines, 2 sets of bag searches and a grilling by a pair of mean looking UK Special Branch Anti-Terrorist Police Officers. These routine checks and screens were standard stuff within the UK and Europe and we were used to these procedures as the travelling public plus they didn't alienate anybody yet were effective. It was the day before Lockerbie.
UK and European Airport/Aviation security cut its teeth after the many Hijack attempts of the 70's and 80's and the horrific attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports and has become probably the most formidable airport/aviation security barrier in the world outside Israel. I travel frequently and even post 9-11 feel far safer travelling through a UK or European airport than I will passing through a US airport for a long while yet. It is readily apparent that the US is playing 'catch up' when it comes to airport security.
Listen to what we have to say and input to the 'Global Security Threat', work with us, drop the US.vs. The World hysteria and paranoia, and respect the fact that the UK and Europe has had to deal with perceived and real Terrorist threats since the end of WW2. We genuinely DO KNOW more about terrorist surveillence and terrorist attack prevention through previous experience than the U.S.
However as a nation you have the technology, the funding, the drive that is the envy of the world. Wouldn't it be in all our interests to pool our resources and start talking to each other? The fact of the matter remains that this guy got through IAD security ON A LONDON BOUND PLANE (and in the wake of the recent LHR-IAD-LHR fiascos!!??) BUT was picked up by LHR security.

He got past you guys but didn't get past us. I'm not being smug, just stating a fact.


16th Jan 2004, 11:33
We also have proper airport layout so that arriving and departing passengers cannot mix

This is certainly not the case at LHR T3. That long walk down the passageways to the gates is a crowded two way street.

miss d point
16th Jan 2004, 14:13
I think that this latest security shocker is all the more reason to cavity search all crews before depature !

16th Jan 2004, 19:50
From BBC today


A man has been arrested at Stansted Airport in Essex after security officials found him in possession of a handgun.
He was taken into custody on Friday morning, but Essex Police say he is not being questioned under the Terrorism Act.

The 44-year-old man was passing through a routine security check at 0500 GMT when he was found carrying the weapon, which fires ball bearings.

Essex Police say the firearm is similar to a airgun and is not able to discharge bullets.

It is believed the man is British and was preparing to travel to Spain alone.

Nigel Molesworth
17th Jan 2004, 18:53
Shovel it but can't take it?
Imagine what this thread would have looked like if it was the other way round - caught with live ammo leaving LHR and going to Dulles?
That's what the real problem is; the arrogance that some (not all !) Americans have about telling the rest of the world how to behave and what to do .... :}

18th Jan 2004, 04:37
What I would say is that this thread has made several of our US posters go up in my estimation since they have had the good graces not to post.

At the base level of this problem we are all in it together. All though many posters in here seem unable to leave well enough alone lets hope that the professionals on both sides of the Atlantic are actually learning the lessons that need learning. There is no room for complacency on either side nor is there cause to overreact either.

I would hope I could speak for all on this site that what we all want is safe, reliable air travel and I actually believe we will get there. We will make mistakes and never get it right all the time.