Germany suspends cargo flights from Yemen

Last Updated: Monday, November 1, 2010 - 15:45

Berlin: Germany has joined the US, Britain
and France in suspending indefinitely all cargo flights from Yemen following the interception of two airfreight packages containing explosive materials from that country.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere told
journalists yesterday that airlines, cargo firms and parcel
services have been ordered to closely examine their complete
cargo from Yemen in their warehouses as well as those still
arriving despite the ban.

This applies to all consignments from Yemen which are
either passing through or reloaded in this country as well as
the cargo transported within this country by road or by rail,
he said.

De Maiziere also confirmed that one of the two parcels
from Yemen containing explosives found onboard a US-bound
cargo aircraft was transhipped at the German city of Cologne,
where the United Parcel Service (UPS) has its largest European
hub.

The package containing an explosive device intercepted
at East Midlands, in the United Kingdom had arrived at the
Cologne airport onboard a cargo aircraft from the Yemeni
capital of Sanaa and it was put on another cargo aircraft to
East Midlands en route to New York via Philadelphia.

The German domestic intelligence service BND had
received a tip off from a friendly intelligence service on
Friday about a suspected package from Yemen and the security
officials at the Cologne airport were immediately alerted, but
it was too late to stop the lethal consignment.

Subsequently, the UK intelligence service was informed
and this led to the interception of the package at the East
Midlands airport, de Maiziere said.

A second package containing explosive materials sent
through the US cargo company FedEx from Yemen, was reportedly
flown on board Qatar Airways passenger planes from Sanaa to
Doha, Qatar and from there to Dubai, where it was intercepted
by the UAE authorities.

de Maiziere said the unsuccessful attempts to blow up
aircraft in mid-air or to explode the devices at their
destinations "exposes a dangerous gap in global
counter-terrorism efforts".

Until now, international counter-terrorism measures
focused on controlling airline passengers and beefing up the
security for passenger aircraft.

But, very little was done to tighten the security for
cargo flights and "al Qaeda has discovered this loophole".

"We take this incident very seriously even though it
seems Germany was not the target," de Maiziere said.

Germany`s security agencies are already on a high
alert.

He cancelled a planned visit to Israel starting
yesterday to take necessary measures to tighten the control
for cargo flights at Germany`s airports and to respond to the
on-going investigation into the unsuccessful bomb plot.
It raised fears of a new terror offensive by al Qaeda
in Europe and in the United States.
Wolfgang Bosbach, chairman of the home affairs
committee of the Bundestag, lower house of parliament, said
the failed bomb plot is a strong evidence that "Germany as
before is in the viewfinder of al Qaeda".

He called upon the authorities to evaluate their
security concept and to make necessary improvements.
"Like the border areas between Afghanistan and
Pakistan, Yemen too has become a staging point for al Qaeda

IANS



First Published: Monday, November 1, 2010 - 15:45

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