The terrorist threat

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As I write, the Prime Minister is involved in meetings of Cobra, the government’s emergency planning committee, to formulate a response to the discovery of a bomb on an aircraft at East Midlands airport.

In the United States, President Obama described the explosives found on UPS and FedEx aircraft as a “credible terrorist threat”.

It would be surprising if we did not see a tightening of the measures taken to deal with the threat of terrorists targeting international cargo systems.

Statements from UPS and FedEx both said they were suspending services from Yemen where the suspect packages originated.

It is obviously a matter of concern that the explosive in the device, PETN, was not picked up by initial tests at East Midlands.

Nevertheless, it would be foolish to ignore what has already been achieved in maintaining security in air cargo operations. Christopher Snelling of the Freight Transport Association’s points out that logistics companies operate complex and stringent security measures for all air cargo.

“These measures have been developed in close partnership with security authorities in all countries. These are intelligent measures which constantly evolve to meet threats as they emerge and are anticipated.”

Security measures have to work – there is no point in doing something if it is ineffective. But maintaining the service is also important – getting that balance right is critical.

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