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UK Flights To The US To Be Subject To Stricter Security Checks

A US government spokeswoman has said new security screening measures will apply to all flights to America from abroad from Thursday. Lisa Farbstein, a spokeswoman for the US Transportation Security Administration, told The Associated Press1 on Wednesday that affects the approximately 2,100 flights arriving daily to America. She said in a statement that the new security measures may include enhancing passenger screening, heightened screening of electronics and increasing security measures.

She says both US citizens and foreigners will face the same security. The agency s comments come as six global long-haul carriers said they will start asking passengers security questions before they board flights at the request of US officials. The stricter passenger screening is designed to avoid an in-cabin ban on laptops, airlines said.

Airlines contacted by Reuters said the new measures could include short security interviews with passengers at check-in or the boarding gate, sparking concerns over flight delays and extended processing time. They will affect 325,000 airline passengers on about 2,000 commercial flights arriving daily in the United States, on 180 airlines from 280 airports in 105 countries. The United States announced the new rules in June to end its restrictions on carry-on electronic devices on planes coming from 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa in response to unspecified security threats.

Those restrictions were lifted in July, but the Trump administration said it could reimpose measures on a case by case basis if airlines and airports did not boost security. European and US officials said at the time that airlines had 120 days to comply with the measures, including increased passenger screening . The 120-day deadline is Thursday . Airlines had until late July to expand explosive trace detection testing.

We see this as a big issue for China Airlines, Steve Chang, senior vice president of the Taiwanese firm told reporters on Wednesday, adding the airline was trying to consult with the American Institute in the country over the issue. Korean Airlines, South Korea s flagship carrier, also said it had a lot of concerns with the new measures.

We are asking customers to show up at the airport early .. .

It s just inconvenient for the passengers, President and Chief Operating Officer Walter Cho told Reuters in Taipei. Lufthansa Group said on Tuesday the measures would be in place by Thursday and travelers could face short interviews at check-in or at the gate. Economy passengers on Lufthansa s Swiss airline have been asked to check in at least 90 minutes before departure.

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said it would suspend in-town check-in and self bag-drop services for passengers booked on direct flights to the United States . The airline said passengers would also have short security interviews and it has advised travelers to arrive three hours before departure. Singapore Airlines Ltd said the security checks could include inspections of personal electronic devices as well as security questioning during check-in and boarding. Airlines for America, a US trade group, said the changes are complex security measures but praised US officials for giving airlines flexibility in meeting the new rules.

Alexandre de Juniac, CEO of the International Air Transport Association, said the industry understoood security threats to aviation were made regularly but in this case the US government had not shared any specific dangers before changing the rules.

What we have seen is very strange, he told reporters in Taipei . Unilateral measures announced without any prior consultation.. . That is something that is very concerning and disturbing. At their annual meeting in Taipei, Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) members passed a resolution calling for security measures to be risk-based, outcome-focused and proportionate to the probable threat.

Unilateral actions taken by individual goverments reacting to emerging threats may result in unneccessary disruption or lead to unintended safety consequences, said the members.

AAPA includes most large Asian airlines but not mainland Chinese carriers.

The risk is other countries make similar demands, AAPA Director General Andrew Herdman said. US authorities in June also increased security around aircraft and in passenger areas, and other places where travellers can be cleared by US officials before they depart. A Transportation Security Administration (TSA) spokeswoman declined to discuss the specific changes but said the United States continues to work with our partners to raise the baseline of global aviation security and keep the entire traveling public safe.

The TSA said in July it was imposing new security rules requiring US domestic airline travellers to remove all electronic items larger than mobile phones such as tablets, e-readers and video game consoles from carry-on baggage for screening.

References

  1. ^ told The Associated Press (apnews.com)

Security officer reveals horror of Benghazi attack

Abu Khatallah “didn’t light the fires or fire the mortars, but is just as guilty” for planning the attack, setting it in motion and getting others “to do his dirty work,” federal prosecutor John Crabb told jurors in his opening statement. But the defense ardently refuted Crabb’s claims that Abu Khatallah “hates Americans with a vengeance” and facilitated the attack that killed four Americans during its opening remarks on the first day of trial. Abu Khatallah faces 18 charges related to the deadly violence that began on September 11, 2012, including the murder of an internationally protected person, providing material support to terrorists and destroying US property while causing death. During the attack, assailants armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades first blasted through the main diplomatic mission before setting it ablaze, according to 2014 court papers. Stevens and State Department information officer Sean Smith died there . A coordinated mortar assault on a nearby annex killed security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, both CIA contractors and former US Navy SEALs.

“Ambassador J . Christopher Stevens choked to death by thick black smoke . Sean Smith choked to death by thick black smoke . Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were ‘blown apart by mortar fire,’ ” Crabb said while vividly describing the attack that took place more than five years ago.

“I knew we were under attack”

Special agent Scott Wickland, a regional officer with diplomatic security who was living at the mission, recalled the events of September 11, 2012 as the first witness to testify in the trial.

Wickland was visibly emotional as he described Stevens as “very personable” with a warm manner was “not normal” for an ambassador. Around 9:45 p.m . on September 11, Wickland said he heard chanting down the street from the mission and then calls of “Allah Akbar.”

As guards scrambled to put on their protective gear and get their guns, Wickland said went to notify Stevens — who had already gone to bed — of a possibly escalating security situation. Wickland then said he directed Stevens and IT official Sean Smith to a safe room in one of the compound’s villas. There was gunfire, explosions and “bloodcurdling screams” on the radio, according to Wickland, who told the jury, “I knew we were under attack.”

The doors of the villa were then blown open and attackers entered the compound armed with AK-47s and other assault rifles, he said. When the attackers could not blast open the gates of the safe room, they set the villa on fire, Wickland said. With smoke filling the safe room, Wickland told the jury that he tried to lead Stevens and Smith to the bathroom so they could get some air but quickly realized they were not behind him. He tried to feel around and yell for them but he couldn’t find them — searching until he was out of air and almost collapsed. As Wickland went outside to escape the smoke he said he was fired upon by grenades. He repeatedly entered the compound to search for Stevens and Smith until he was out of breath only to be met with a barrage of grenade fire each time he exited the compound. Unable to locate Stevens and Smith, Wickland told the jury that he said to himself “I’m going to search for them until I’m going to die.” Wickland then said he waited for a lull in the gunfire and climbed a ladder to the roof where he stayed alone for a very long time and continued to take fire — unable to make contact with anyone on the radio. Just when he thought everyone was dead, one of the guards, David Ubben, called Wickland on the radio and said “are you alive?

“I don’t know how many times I thought I was going to die, but this was a piece of hope that I was going to survive,” Wickland told the jury. Court adjourned for the day as Wickland was still on the stand and the prosecution is expected to resume his testimony on Tuesday.

Violent extremist or Libyan patriot?

Abu Khatallah emerged from years in prison under the regime of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to form an Islamist militia and later became associated with Ansar al-Sharia, a group US officials blamed for the 2012 attack. Believed to be in his 40s, Abu Khatallah became the face of the militant attack and a top target for the US after he cultivated a celebrity profile in its wake, meeting with journalists and granting interviews. On Monday, prosecutors highlighted evidence they said will show Abu Khatallah not only orchestrated efforts to gather weapons ahead of the attack but will also show he rushed the gates of the mission armed with an AK-47 rifle and fuel canisters which were used to set the building on fire. The prosecution ended its opening statements by reiterating that Abu Khatallah was motivated by his hate for Americans and concerns that the US mission in Libya served as a “spy nest” — a point that echoed claims made in pre-trial documents. “The defendant’s participation in the attack was motivated by his extremist ideology,” prosecutors said in the documents, which also alleged that Abu Khatallah “voiced concern and opposition to the presence of an American facility in Benghazi” days prior to the attack. However, the defense argued that Abu Khatallah was not a radical terrorist but rather a “Libyan patriot” who fought to free the country from Gadhafi. According to Robinson, Khatallah was at a friend’s house when he heard about the attack and “went to see what was going on.” He did not attempt to block people from going to the attack site but was only acting to try and protect those present from gunfire, Robinson said, adding that Abu Khatallah never went to the CIA annex and was at home when the mortars hit. The defense also discussed Abu Khatallah’s 12 days in isolation after he was captured during a secret raid in June 2014.

While he was interrogated aboard a Navy ship during transport from Libya to the US, the defense said Abu Khatallah made certain statements and blamed bad translation for his answers.

They also emphasized that he cooperated with interrogators without an attorney present.

Sedgefield tech firm Kromek flies high with $2m security screening deal

North East technology firm Kromek is cementing its strength in security markets after winning a second long-term contract in the sector this year.

The Sedgefield firm1 , which is based at NETPark, has announced a five-year deal with a new customer which is a leader in X-ray imaging systems. The radiation detection technology company, which also works in the medical and nuclear markets, said the five-year deal is worth $2m ( 1.54m) over the period. The work will see the manufacturer incorporate Kromek s technology into its baggage security screening systems, which will boost detection of an extensive range of threat materials.

This marks the second long-term contract Kromek has signed in the security screening market this year, following the announcement in February of a five-year $3.1m ( 2.39m) agreement with an existing US customer that is an emerging leader and global company in the homeland security marketplace. Dr Arnab Basu, chief executive officer of Kromek, said: We are delighted to secure another long-term contract with a new OEM customer in the security screening market.

This agreement further demonstrates the demand for our products and technology as all OEMs in this arena begin upgrading their legacy systems to bring them in line to detect modern day threats . We look forward to working with this new customer and developing a long-term relationship with them.

The announcement comes just over two weeks after the firm was awarded a new contract by a health sector customer worth at least 4.1m.

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The radiation detection specialist already has contracts with the firm, which works in the bone mineral densitometry sector, which involves making detectors which are used to determine a patient s bone quality, helping doctors in the diagnosis and management of diseases such as osteoporosis. In June the firm posted full year results showing growth in turnover of 7.5% from 8.3m to 9m. Mr Basu pledged a step change at the firm that will see it pull off larger contracts and boost revenue by 40% this year.

Over the last 24 months the firm has won more than $40m ( 30.9m) in contracts across its market sectors as commercialisation has stepped up.

References

  1. ^ Sedgefield firm (www.chroniclelive.co.uk)