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Euro flight cancellations have ebbed: Why?


As the hole is as good as the donut, i.e., what we don't see is as useful as what we do, I find it interesting that the flight cancellations, primarily from France and the UK along with some from Mexico, that rattled authorities and travelers alike in late 2003-early 2004, seemed to have ebbed yet I have not seen much mention of it.

During the 03-04 holiday Orange level alert, I mused that it was not a person per se but a transported object that was the source of cancellations. That concern appeared to be growing as al Qaeda remained steadfast in its effort to show followers, recruits and donors that it remained relevant and lethal. At the time, I thought it of lesser importance that we were at the close of the Hajj and of greater significance that the Eid al-Adha, Feast of the Sacrifice, was beginning.

The January 2004 flight cancellations were due to a presumption that jihadis were attempting to release chemical or biological agents on board an airliner in order to infect passengers and crew, turning them into disease vectors, or transport a radiological device in cargo, above and beyond hijacking. I took that as an indication as to why specific flights were being canceled time and again, i.e., something about the origination, timing, support-crews, and perhaps the airframes themselves.

Air carriers found it easier to cancel flights than to meet the "required enhanced, multi-tiered security precautions" that the US was requiring, presumably in pre- and post-flight screening of air cargo, very little of which is subject to physical inspection, and carrier vetting of shippers, an admittedly demanding action. Beyond aircraft, authorities have long been concerned with a seaborne container containing a GPS-augmented payload that would allow terrorists to track and detonate the payload at the appropriate position.

Those flight cancellations have halted. Why? Did we institute new policies for screening, especially on cargo, or put in place vetting procedures for shippers, that induced the perpetrators to down tools and recommence surveillance in order to find a new vector in the US without endangering their infrastructure? Or did the bad guys opt for another attack profile altogether?

The problem with an unexplained "TWA" or Trouble Went Away is that it can return with equal lack of announcement.

Flights Canceled as New Air Terror Concerns Raised
By Sara Kehaulani Goo and Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, January 31, 2004; 7:45 PM

Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Infrastructure Defense Public  Terrorism Public  


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