More evidence for the need for careful checking by immigration officials: “Intelligence officials hunting Islamist terrorists suspected of planning attacks on British Airways flights believe they may be carrying legitimate United Kingdom, United States or other European passports in an effort to circumvent airport security.” This from the New Zealand Herald, with thanks to Nicolei.
“According to US sources, cancellation of BA flights to Washington and Riyadh was triggered by the fear that terrorists with legitimate ‘clean aliases’ were planning attacks over the New Year holiday.
“The security alert comes amid compelling new evidence of determined efforts by jihadist groups to recruit suicide bombers in the UK and Europe for operations against the US-led coalition in Iraq and against domestic targets.
“The British Government said yesterday that a specific threat led to the grounding of several BA flights last week and warned that more cancellations might be needed to prevent another September 11-style attack.
“Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said British security services had information supporting US intelligence on a risk to the cancelled BA flights. ‘The threat that we now face is likely to endure for many years.’
“British Airways Flight 223 arrived in Washington last night after being grounded twice last week after an intelligence tip-off that it was the target of an attack. The flight had been intercepted by US fighter jets an hour from Washington last Thursday. BA also scrapped a flight from London to Riyadh for security reasons.
“The Sunday Telegraph quoted security sources as saying two al Qaeda members were at large in Britain and planned to detonate a shoe bomb or similar device in an aircraft toilet.
“The People said the US FBI feared an al Qaeda member may have a job as a pilot flying a British plane to carry out a suicide attack. The Sunday Times, citing a senior intelligence source, said security services had information of a plot by the Islamic extremist group again to hijack several jets – including a BA plane – simultaneously and crash them into big US targets.
“Although UK Government sources yesterday strongly denied suggestions that UK passport-holders were suspected in the threat to BA, telephone intercepts seen by the Observer make clear that Islamist terror cells are deliberately targeting ‘well-educated’ foreigners, Britons among them. In one call, an unidentified jihadist tells a colleague: ‘We need foreigners. We have Albanians, Swiss and English … all that is important is that they are of a high cultural level … businessmen, professors, engineers, doctors and teachers.’
“Intelligence sources believe dormant networks have been reactivated and reorganised for a new jihad.”