Breaking news. Britain raises it's Threat Level which is based on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Threat Advisory system to 'Critical' following arrests and the foiling of an alleged terrorist plot. According to reports from the Home Office, the plot involved explosives being carried on planes bound for the U.S. in carry-on luggage with the plan to detonate them in mid-flight. For the time being, the Department of Homeland Security has not raised the general Threat Advisory for the U.S. however it is raised to Red or Severe for air travel originating in Britain bound for the United States. Massive delays are already occuring in both U.K. and U.S. airports and are expected to last some time. The Department of Homeland Security has announced a press conference for 8:00AM EST this morning.
The following statements were issued on the Home Office Website:
UK threat level increased to critical
10 August 2006
The UK threat level has been increased to critical following the disruption of a major terrorist plot to target UK flights. The Department for Transport has issued important travel advice to anyone travelling from a UK airport.
Following this morning’s police action, security at all UK airports has been increased and additional security measures have been put in place for all flights.
With immediate effect, the following arrangements apply to all passengers starting their journey at a UK airport and to those transferring between flights at a UK airport.
All cabin baggage must be processed as hold baggage and carried in the hold of passenger aircraft departing UK airports.
Passengers may take through the airport security search point, in a single (ideally transparent) plastic carrier bag, only the following items. Nothing may be carried in pockets:
• pocket size wallets and pocket size purses plus contents (for example money, credit cards, identity cards etc (not handbags))
• travel documents essential for the journey (for example passports and travel tickets)
• prescription medicines and medical items sufficient and essential for the flight (eg, diabetic kit), except in liquid form unless verified as authentic
• spectacles and sunglasses, without cases
• contact lens holders, without bottles of solution
• for those travelling with an infant: baby food, milk (the contents of each bottle must be tasted by the accompanying passenger) and sanitary items sufficient and essential for the flight (nappies, wipes, creams and nappy disposal bags)
• female sanitary items sufficient and essential for the flight, if unboxed (eg tampons, pads, towels and wipes)
• tissues (unboxed) and/or handkerchiefs
• keys (but no electrical key fobs)
All passengers must be hand searched, and their footwear and all the items they are carrying must be x-ray screened.
Pushchairs and walking aids must be x-ray screened, and only airport-provided wheelchairs may pass through the screening point.
In addition to the above, all passengers boarding flights to the USA and all the items they are carrying, including those acquired after the central screening point, must be subjected to secondary search at the boarding gate. Any liquids discovered must be removed from the passenger.
There are no changes to current hold baggage security measures.
Regrettably, significant delays at airports are inevitable. Passengers are being asked to allow themselves plenty of extra time and to ensure that other than the few permitted items listed above, all their belongings are placed in their hold baggage and checked in.
These additional security measures will make travel more difficult for passengers, particularly at such a busy time of the year. But they are necessary and will continue to keep flights from UK airports properly secure. We hope that these measures, which are being kept under review by the government, will need to be in place for a limited period only. In light of the threat to aviation and the need to respond to it, we are asking the traveling public to be patient and understanding and to cooperate fully with airport security staff and the police.
If passengers have any questions on their travel arrangements or security in place at airports they should contact their airline or carrier.
Home Secretary issues terror statement
10 August 2006
The Home Secretary has made an official statement about this morning's major counter terrorist operation to quash a significant terrorist plot and the subsequent increase to UK threat levels.
'Overnight the police, with the full knowledge of Ministers, have carried out a major counter-terrorism operation to disrupt what we believe to be a major threat to the UK and international partners.
The police, acting with the Security Service MI5, are investigating an alleged plot to bring down a number of aircraft through mid-flight explosions, causing a considerable loss of life.
The police believe the alleged plot was a very significant one indeed.
At 2am this morning the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre raised the UK threat state to its highest level – “CRITICAL”.
This is now being publicly announced as I promised to Parliament last month.
This is a precautionary measure. We are doing everything possible to disrupt any further terrorist activity.
This will mean major disruption at all UK airports from today.
But as far as is possible we want people to go about their business as normal.
The police will provide an update on the operation later this morning and Ministers will keep the public regularly informed.'