Perfect Storm Brewing For Another Attack On US Homeland
The convergence of trigger points, increased terrorist arrests, "missing" Egyptian students entering the country, announcement of a new Egyptian extremist group joining Al Queda, renewed calls from the President of Iran for Isreal to be wiped from the face of the earth, and the persistent refusal of the US government to impose effective border and immigration enforcement should be alerting risk management professionals to the real chance that another strike on the US could be imminent.
Published Aug 10, 2006
The arrest of 21 of as many as 50 terrorist plotters in Britain Thursday has driven the US Terror Threat Level to its highest level -- RED -- for flights coming from Britain. Increased security is also reported at airports in Spain and France. The RED alert for air travel has not raised the over-all terror threat warning.
Articles on the major news services indicate that the group was very close to launching an attack against United Airlines, American Airlines and Continental Airlines flights from Britain to New York, Washington, and California.
August 10, 2006 – The United States Government is raising the nation’s threat level for the aviation sector to:
Code Red or Severe for flights originating in the United Kingdom bound for the United States
Code Orange or High for all commercial aviation operating in or destined for the United States.
The rest of the country remains at Code Yellow.
The plan is described as a plot to blow up multiple airliners with concealed bombs carried aboard the aircraft. Airport security officials, in reaction to the RED Terror Alert and specific information about the threat have banned most liquids and gels, including toothpaste from flights. Baby formula was the only liquid not being confiscated at security lines at airports, and waiting lines at security burgeoned as security personnel intensified every screening.
The incident comes on top of increased concerns about looming triggers for potential strikes against the US
Israeli military actions in Lebanon and Gaza in response to Hamas and Hezbollah attacks
Iranian plans to announce their "response" to international demands to dismantle their nuclear program, with an announcement date on or before August 22 (a Islamic date of significance)
Five year anniversary of September 11 attack on world trade center
The serious nature of the threat and the concern of officials about the apparent "perfect storm" brewing for another attack on the US was evident in the first-ever RED alert -- "Severe Risk of Terrorist Attacks".
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that the DHS believes that the threat has been significantly disrupted, but cautioned that "We cannot be sure that the threat has been entirely eliminated or the plot completely thwarted."
Although increased security warnings have not been specifically directed outside the airline industry, tension levels are raising as the FBI is currently investigating an estimated 10,000 potential terror-related situations. While most are characterized as having harmless explanations, FBI officials are pursuing all reports as a threat until proven otherwise.
Consistent with these higher threat levels, the Transportation Security Administration is implementing changes to airport screening procedures to include:
No liquids or gels of any kind will be permitted in carry-on baggage. Items must be in checked baggage.
Exception: baby formula, breast milk, or juice if a baby or small child is traveling; prescription medicine, insulin and essential other non-prescription medicines.
Travelers should also anticipate additional security measures within the airport and at screening checkpoints.
The convergence of trigger points, increased terrorist arrests, "missing" Egyptian students entering the country, announcement of a new Egyptian extremist group joining Al Qaida, renewed calls from the President of Iran for Israel to be wiped from the face of the earth, and the persistent refusal of the US government to impose effective border and immigration enforcement should be alerting risk management professionals to the real chance that another strike on the US could be imminent.
Healthcare facilities are among the classifications of potential targets that have been identified in past warnings, but security at these facilities has been lax. I recommend heightened attention to security and refreshers on emergency procedures should be implemented promptly and remain in force at least through the 9/11 anniversary.