BY DOUGLAS QUAN, POSTMEDIA NEWSJULY 8, 2014
Transport Canada is working to increase security amid U.S. intelligence concerns about explosives.
Photograph by: John Moore, Getty Images, Postmedia News
Transport Canada confirmed Monday that it will implement “enhanced” security measures at airports in the near future, amid reports that U.S. intelligence officials are becoming concerned about the possible use of hidden explosives.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said this weekend it has asked certain overseas airports to beef up the screening of passengers on direct flights to the U.S. Changes will include more scrutiny of electronic devices, the agency commented in a statement. “During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cellphones,” the statement reads. “Powerless devices will not be permitted on board the aircraft. The traveller may also undergo additional screening.” A Transport Canada spokeswoman refused Monday to say if U.S.-bound travellers at Canadian airports will face similar measures.
“Transport Canada has been monitoring the situation closely, and intends to implement enhanced security measures soon. Any additional security measures are expected to have a minimal impact on passengers,” Roxane Marchand said via email. “For security reasons, Transport Canada cannot provide specific details of security measures.”
American intelligence officials have been concerned about new al-Qaida efforts to produce a bomb that could go undetected through airport security, perhaps hidden in shoes, electronics or cosmetics, The Associated Press reported, citing an anonymous counterterrorism official.
While the TSA does not conduct screening outside of the U.S., it has the ability to set screening criteria for flights flying to the U.S. from abroad, the news agency reported. A TSA official said Monday that the agency’s request for enhanced screening measures was directed only at certain airports overseas – not Canadian ones. The training that Canadian airport screeners receive in explosives detection has come under scrutiny in recent months.
Last September, a teenager travelling with his family at the Edmonton International Airport, inadvertently brought along a pipe bomb in his carry-on bag. While the device never made it on the plane, an internal report by the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority found that “the item was not identified, intercepted, or handled in the manner expected by CATSA.”
Several personnel had feelings that the device – described as a six-or seveninch, barbell-shaped metallic object with end caps and wrapped in wire – might be a pipe bomb or improvised explosive device. But because the checkpoint manager concluded that the item was drug paraphernalia, “no one acted fully on these suspicions, and the police were not called until several days later,” said the report released to Postmedia News.
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