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Thursday, August 10, 2006

US goes to highest flight alert

tvnz.co.nz: "The US government raised the security alert on passenger planes to its highest level for the first time on Thursday after Britain said it had foiled a plot to blow up flights to the United States.
The US Department of Homeland Security said it was taking an unprecedented step by raising the threat level for commercial flights originating in the United Kingdom to 'severe,' or red.
The threat level for all other commercial aircraft operating in or destined for the United States would be raised to 'high,' or orange, from 'elevated,' or yellow, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a statement.
The threat level for the country as a whole remained at yellow, according to the department's Web site.
Homeland Security took immediate steps that included barring passengers from carrying liquids, including beverages, hair gels and lotions, on planes. It said travellers in both countries should expect long delays.
A British police source said the plot was believed to involve a 'liquid chemical' device.
'Over the last few hours, British authorities have arrested a significant number of extremists engaged in a substantial plot to destroy multiple passenger aircraft flying from the United Kingdom to the United States,' the statement released by the DHS press office said.
British police said they had thwarted a plot to blow up aircraft in mid-flight between Britain and the United States and were holding 21 people in connection with the plot. The arrests were made in the London and Birmingham areas.
In response, Britain's security services raised its threat level to 'critical' from 'severe,' the highest of its five ratings, suggesting 'an attack is expected imminently.'
'Currently, there is no indication ... of plotting within the U"
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