European airlines 'could be targeted'

British Airways flights from London to Washington and Air France flights from Paris to an unspecified US city could be terrorist targets, US officials have said.

    Two BA flights to the US were cancelled in December

    Some of the flights are the same as those that drew increased attention

    when the US' terror alert was raised to orange, or high, just before

    Christmas.

    Two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity on Friday stressed

    there was no specific information about what might be planned, only that those

    flights are possible targets.

    But there are no plans to raise the terror alert because of the latest

    threats, said Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for the Homeland Security

    Department.

    "We remain concerned about al-Qaida's desire to target aviation,

    especially international aviation," he said.

    Intelligence sharing 

    "The US intelligence

    community continues to gather specific credible threat information on

    international flights, as we have done in an ongoing basis in the past few

    weeks.

    "We have shared this information with our international partners, and

    will work with them to put in place the appropriate security measures."

    Over the holidays, security was tightened considerably around the flights

    that concerned officials. Passenger airline cargo was inspected, for example,

    and law enforcement's presence was increased around airports.

    "We remain concerned about al-Qaida's desire to target aviation,

    especially international aviation"

    Brian Roehrkasse,
    Homeland Security Department

    No flights have been delayed or canceled due to the new threats, officials

    said.

    However, a senior law enforcement official said US officials are

    talking to British and French authorities and no decisions have been made

    about delaying or canceling future flights.

    Flight delays 

    Another senior law enforcement official said the intelligence being

    gathered is similar to what US authorities were hearing during the

    heightened terror alert in December.

    That prompted US officials to ask for the

    cancellation of two British Airways flights from London to Washington and six

    Air France flights between Paris and Los Angeles.

    A number of other flights were delayed for hours so passengers could be

    checked against watch lists.

    US officials say they believe the process for checking the backgrounds

    of airline passengers and crews has been improved so that those long delays

    probably won't be repeated.

    An Air France spokeswomen in New York, Diane Cornman, said there was good

    cooperation among the airline and US and French government officials.

    "We

    have been complying with all security measures," she said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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