Foreign airports increasing security due to terror threat

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Some foreign airports with direct flights to the United States are being asked to step up security measures by American officials.

U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said all this is a result of direct intelligence. In a statement, he said the change is based on the U.S. and its allies, "continually (assessing) the global threat environment."

Among the changes passengers may see:
  • More screening of electronics and shoes

  • More explosive detection machines

  • Extra screenings at border gates

These extra measures may be due to increased fears that members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are refining their bomb-making to avoid current airport screening methods. Ibrahim al-Assiri is believed to be behind the threat.

"Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has long looked for vulnerabilities in airport security and, in particular, finding ways to put together bombs using non-metallic material that could make its way through metal detectors, but also try to hide bombs in body crevices," said Seth Jones, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the RAND Corporation.

There is concern that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is working with terrorists in Syria on new bomb making techniques.

Officials are concerned about the possibility of a terrorist using a passport from a Western country to gain easy access to a plane, then detonate a bomb.

Former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said travelers should not panic.

"I would be mindful of the fact that there is probably increased risk. I don't think it's dramatically different, I wouldn't not fly," Chertoff said. "The good news here is that the government sharing information with others in other parts of the world is responding to this."

The extra security should be in place in the coming days in those select foreign airports.

Airports in the United States are not expected to be affected.

Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.