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the terrorist alert level is raised to pink! or is that azul, sienna, pale violet

by Christopher Kline Friday, Aug. 11, 2006 at 1:57 PM

the terrorist alert level is raised to pink! or is that azul, sienna, pale violet red or maybe sandstone orange???? and remember the government has banned toothpaste, makeup, suntan lotion, and all other liquids and gels from carry on luggage for your protection!!!


Terror threat prompts changes at Sky Harbor

Christopher Kline


Aug. 10, 2006 08:35 AM

Sky Harbor International Airport on Thursday put in place new security procedures when the U.S. government raised the terror threat level following the arrest of 21 men in a plot to blow up planes traveling from Britain to the United States, authorities said.

Airport officials are advising passengers to arrive two to three hours before their flights because of growing security lines, but said no flights has been canceled as of 8 a.m.

Sky Harbor also made several changes to baggage allowances, and encouraged passengers to avoid carry-on luggage and to check in all belongings if possible.

Here are the new requirements:

• If you must bring carry-on luggage, only small purses and briefcases are encouraged.

• No liquids or gels of any kind will be allowed through security (this including drinks, shampoos and toothpastes). The only exceptions will be prescription medication and baby formula.

• TSA officials are also selectively confiscating cosmetics, including lipsticks and makeup.

• There will be an increased police and dog presence. Cars may be randomly searched.

It's unclear how long the restrictions could last.

The one daily non-stop British Airways flight from London to Phoenix was delayed.

Sky Harbor officials earlier said the flight would arrive around the usual time in the late afternoon but that was based on miscommunication. In fact, the flight had not departed from London Heathrow Airport as of 8:45 p.m.

It was unclear how the delay would affect the return flight from Phoenix on Thursday night.

Reach the reporter at ckline@azcentral.com or at (602) 523-3123.


Liquids banned from carry-on baggage; airport lines grow

Associated Press

Aug. 10, 2006 09:00 AM

LINTHICUM, Md. - Growing lines of irritated travelers snaked through U.S. airport terminals Thursday as people waited hours to reach security checkpoints, where they were ordered to dump all liquids - water bottles, suntan lotion, even toothpaste - following the discovery of a terror plot involving planes leaving Britain.

Guards armed with rifles stood at the security checkpoints in several airports. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said he would send the National Guard to help patrol Boston's Logan Airport for the first time since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and New York Gov. George Pataki was considering a similar move.

Security workers at Baltimore/Washington Airport opened every carry-on bag that passed through one terminal, and all the flights there were delayed.

"It's better alive than dead," said Bob Chambers, whose flight from Baltimore to Detroit for business meeting was delayed more than an hour. "It's inconvenient, but we'll make it."

The plot targeted flights from Britain to the U.S., particularly to New York, Washington and California on United Airlines, American Airlines and Continental Airlines Inc., a counterterrorism official said Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

U.S. authorities raised the threat level to "red" for flights from Britain, the first time the highest threat of terrorist attack had been invoked since the system was created. All other flights were under an "orange" alert - one step below red.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the plot appeared to have been engineered by al-Qaida, the terrorist group that hijacked two planes from Boston on Sept. 11, 2001, and flew them into the World Trade Center towers in New York.

Lines were longer than usual at San Francisco International Airport, and red plastic bins were quickly filling up with bottles of wine, cups of coffee and water bottles now banned from carry-on luggage.

Kathy McMahon, 49, of Mill Valley, Calif., was frantically helping her daughter stuff sunscreen, makeup, contact lens solution and other liquids into every corner of her half-dozen suitcases to be checked as she headed off to college.

"I think it's ridiculous," McMahon said. "But we'll do it anyway. What are you going to do?"

At Kennedy Airport in New York, Sonia Gomes De Mesquita, 40, waited nervously to board a British Airways flight home to London. Her family had urged her not to fly.

"You wake up and what are you going to do?" she said. "The flight is today."

She said she checked all her belongings rather than risk having something confiscated. "I even checked in my book."

At Newark Airport in New Jersey, the security checkpoint line for Terminal B, home to most international flights, stretched the entire length of the terminal - roughly six football fields - and was barely moving.

Andra Racibarskas, of Chatham, was trying to get to Michigan to pick up her daughter from camp.

"Checking in was very easy. It took one minute curbside. It took one minute to get my boarding pass," she said. "This line is at least four hours long."

The security lines at Newark's Terminal C, where Continental bases its flights at the airport, was even worse. The crush of people brought to mind a chaotic rock concert.

"It's complete disaster and chaos," said Bill Federman, of Oklahoma City, who missed his Continental flight home because of the lines.

The new ban on all liquids and gels from carry-on luggage left people with little choice but throw away juice boxes, makeup and, for one passenger, even a bottle of tequila. Baby formula and medicines were exempt but had to be inspected.

Rather than packing toiletries in carry-ons, airport officials asked passengers to put them in checked baggage, which is screened by equipment that can detect explosives, said Phil Orlandella, spokesman for Boston's Logan International Airport.

Chicago aviation commissioner Nuria Fernandez said the tighter restriction will remain in place for at least 12 to 72 hours and possibly longer.

At Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport, Brenda Lee was annoyed with the lines and having to remove items from her luggage. The 52-year-old commercial real estate appraiser from Snellville, Ga., had to throw away her shampoo, but she said she was keeping her contact lens solution in her carry-on luggage.

"I'm not sure it does what they want it to do," she said. "It's all for security, but some things go beyond security."

At one checkpoint in Pittsburgh's airport, small containers of whiskey and scotch were tossed in among the toothpaste and makeup bottles. Other travelers who heard about the ban in time left their forbidden items behind.

Laura Yeager left four bottles of Gucci and Cartier perfume for the hotel maid before heading to the Atlanta airport for her flight back to Philadelphia. She still had to give up her lip gloss at the security checkpoint.

She just shrugged and tossed it. "It's better to feel safe. We thought it was going to be a lot worse."

At Boston's Logan Airport, Romney said additional screening stations were being set up at the airline gates and security was being tightened on the roads outside the airport. The exact number of guardsmen was still being determined, but "it will certainly be in the hundreds," he said.

New York Gov. George Pataki has offered state police and National Guard units to bolster security at John F. Kennedy Airport and other airports, but no decision to dispatch them had been made, a Pataki spokesman said.

Extra police and dog units were sent out overnight at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where American Airlines is based, to patrol terminals and parking garages, airport spokesman Ken Capps said.

American canceled three London-bound morning flights from Chicago, Boston and New York to accommodate delays at London's Heathrow airport, spokesman John Hotard said. To balance the cancellations, the airline also dropped three afternoon or evening flights from London to U.S. cities, Hotard said.

The remaining 13 flights in each direction were expected to run from 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours late. The cancellations were due to scheduling delays and not because of direct threats to the flights, Hotard said.

Delta Air Lines spokesman Anthony Black said operations would continue normally and there would be no flight cancellations. But Delta was expecting delays on flights coming from the United Kingdom because of heightened security there, Black said.

Homeland Security staff put up hastily printed signs at Dulles Airport outside Washington warning passengers in red capital letters: "No liquid or gels permitted beyond security."

The United Airlines terminal at San Francisco's airport was a scene of growing unhappiness. Both the security and check-in lines had a number of switchbacks and confused travelers pushed and elbowed each other.

Bill Poland, 61, of Ross was headed to Lake George, N.Y., with his wife and son. He held up a tube of lip balm and shouted to a security officer who told him he couldn't bring it on the plane with him. He said he recently had a cancerous growth removed from his lip and the anti-bacterial ointment was necessary treatment.

"In an hour or two my lips are going to start burning and turning purple. And I've got five to six hours on a plane without this," he said. "This is not something I'm looking forward to."


U.S. raises airline threat level to highest level

Associated Press

Aug. 10, 2006 06:50 AM

WASHINGTON - The United States issued its highest terrorism alert for commercial flights from Britain and raised security on all domestic and international flights after a major terror plot was foiled in London. The Bush administration said the scheme was "suggestive of an al-Qaida plot."

"We were really getting quite close to the execution phase," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said at a news conference with FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Terrorists had targeted United, American and Continental Air Lines, two U.S. counterrorism officials said. The plot envisioned mid-flight explosions on multiple aircraft using bomb components brought on board in benign state and combined once the planes were aloft, officials said.

The plot was aimed at flights to New York, Washington and California, all major summer tourist destinations, officials said.

The administration raised the threat level for flights from Britain to "red," designating a severe risk of terrorist attacks. All other flights, including all domestic flights in the United States, were put under an "orange," alert - one step below the highest level.

Heightened security caused long lines and delays at airport security checkpoints. The government banned passengers from carrying all liquids and gels, including toothpaste, makeup, suntan lotion. Baby formula and medicines were exempted.

"We are taking some very serious and inconvenient measures," Chertoff said. He said it was advisable to have more protection and scale it back, then not to act at all.

Chertoff said there was no indication of plotting in the United States but said officials cannot assume that the terror operation in Britain had been completely thwarted. He said the plot appeared to be engineered by al-Qaida, the terrorist group that carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attack against the United States.

"It was sophisticated, it had a lot of members and it was international in scope," said Chertoff. "It was in some respects suggestive of an al-Qaida plot."

He added, however, that "because the investigation is still under way we cannot yet form a definitive conclusion."

Gonzales said the operation could "potentially kill hundreds of innocent people." Britain said 21 people had been arrested, including the alleged "main players" in the plot.

Mueller also pointed at al-Qaida. "This had the earmarks of an al-Qaida plot," he said.

The alleged plot was "as sophisticated as any we have seen in recent years as far as terrorism is concerned," Chertoff said.

He said there was no indication of any plotting in the United States but that the government was taking steps to protect against unseen threats or copycat attacks. "We cannot assume that this threat has been completely thwarted," the secretary said.

"There's sufficient uncertainty as to whether the British have scooped up everybody," Chertoff added. Gonzales said the operation could "potentially kill hundreds of innocent people." Chertoff said the plot was "as sophisticated as any we have seen in recent years as far as terrorism is concerned."

Hastily printed signs were posted at major airports warning passengers in red capital letters, "No liquid or gels permitted beyond security."

It is the first time the red alert level in the Homeland Security warning system has been invoked, although there have been brief periods in the past when the orange level was applied. Homeland Security defines the red alert as designating a "severe risk of terrorist attacks."

There were no commercial passenger planes in the air from Britain to the United States when the red alert was issued, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said. She said three cargo planes aloft from London - two Lufthansa and one UPS plane - were allowed to continue because the threat was focused on passenger planes.

Officials said the government has been aware of the nature of the threat for several days, and President Bush, vacationing in Texas, was fully briefed. Prime Minister Tony Blair's office said in London that the prime minister, vacationing in the Caribbean, had briefed Bush overnight.

The U.S. Northern Command, the military headquarters established in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, was "monitoring and ... a little bit more vigilant today," said spokesman Michael Kucharek, declining to be more specific.

"I'm not going to say it's business as usual," he said. "We're looking at all sources of information - this is a real threat to the nation."

The plot was not believed to be connected to a group of Egyptian students who disappeared in the United States more than a week ago before reaching a college they were supposed to attend in Montana. Three of the 11 have since been found and the FBI has said neither they nor the still-missing eight are believed to be a threat.

As part of the foiled Bojinka Plot to blow up 12 Western airliners simultaneously over the Pacific Ocean in the mid-1990s, terrorist mastermind Ramzi Youssef planned to put together an improvised bomb using liquid in a contact lens solution container.

The metal detector and X-ray machines at airport security checkpoints cannot detect such explosives. At many, but not all airport checkpoints, the TSA has deployed walkthrough "sniffer" or "puffer" machines that can detect explosives residue.

American Airlines parent is AMR Corp.

United's parent is UAL Corp.

Continental's full name is: Continental Airlines Inc.


British thwart terror plot to blow up aircraft to U.S.

Associated Press

Aug. 10, 2006 07:05 AM

LONDON - British authorities said Thursday they had thwarted a terrorist plot to simultaneously blow up several aircraft heading to the U.S. using explosives smuggled in hand luggage, averting what police described as "mass murder on an unimaginable scale."

Officials raised security to its highest level in Britain - suggesting a terrorist attack might be imminent - and banned carry-on luggage on all trans-Atlantic flights. Huge crowds formed at security barriers at London's Heathrow airport as officials searching for explosives barred nearly every form of liquid outside of baby formula.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the terrorists planned to use liquid explosives disguised as beverages and other common products and detonators disguised as electronic devices.

The extreme measures at a major international aviation hub sent ripples throughout the world. Heathrow was closed to most flights from Europe, and British Airways canceled all its flights between the airport and points in Britain, Europe and Libya. Numerous flights from U.S. cities to Britain were canceled.

Washington raised its threat alert to its highest level for commercial flights from Britain to the United States amid fears the plot had not been completely crushed. The alert for all flights coming or going from the United States was also raised slightly.

Two U.S. counterterrorism officials said the terrorists had targeted United Airlines, American Airlines and Continental Airlines. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

A U.S. intelligence official said the plotters had hoped to target flights to major airports in New York, Washington and California.

British Home Secretary John Reid said 21 people had been arrested in London, its suburbs and Birmingham following a lengthy investigation, including the alleged "main players" in the plot. Searches continued in a number of locations.

The suspects were "homegrown," though it was not immediately clear if they were all British citizens, said a police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. Police were working closely with the South Asian community, the official said.

The official said the plotters intended to simultaneously target multiple planes bound for the United States.

"We think this was an extraordinarily serious plot and we are confident that we've prevented an attempt to commit mass murder on an unimaginable scale," Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson said.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, vacationing in the Caribbean, briefed President Bush on the situation overnight.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush also had been briefed by his aides while at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he has been on vacation.

"We do believe the plot involved flights from the U.K. to the U.S. and was a direct threat to the United States," Snow said.

Chertoff, the homeland security chief, said the plot had the hallmarks of an operation planned by al-Qaida, the terrorist group behind the Sept. 11 attack on the United States.

"It was sophisticated, it had a lot of members and it was international in scope. It was in some respects suggestive of an al-Qaida plot," Chertoff said, but he cautioned it was too early in the investigation to reach any conclusions.

It is the first time the red alert level in the Homeland Security warning system has been invoked, although there have been brief periods in the past when the orange level was applied. Homeland Security defines the red alert as designating a "severe risk of terrorist attacks."

"We believe that these arrests (in London) have significantly disrupted the threat, but we cannot be sure that the threat has been entirely eliminated or the plot completely thwarted," Chertoff said.

He added, however, there was no indication of current plots within the United States.

Chertoff said the plotters were in the final stages of planning. "We were really getting quite close to the execution phase," he said, adding that it was unclear if the plot was linked to the upcoming fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

A senior U.S. counterterrorism official said authorities believe dozens of people - possibly as many as 50 - were involved in the plot. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

The plan involved airline passengers hiding masked explosives in carry-on luggage, the official said. "They were not yet sitting on an airplane," but were very close to traveling, the official said, calling the plot "the real deal."

Passengers in Britain faced delays as tighter security was hastily enforced at the country's airports and additional measures were put in place for all flights. Laptop computers, mobile phones, iPods, and remote controls were among the items banned from being carried on board.

Liquids, such as hair care products, were also barred on flights in both Britain and the U.S.

In the mid-1990s, officials foiled a plan by terrorist mastermind Ramzi Youssef to blow up 12 Western jetliners simultaneously over the Pacific. The alleged plot involved improvised bombs using liquid hidden in contact lens solution containers.

Huge lines formed at ticket counters and behind security barriers at Heathrow and other airports in Britain.

Ed Lappen, 55, a businessman from Boston, who was traveling with his wife and daughter to Russia, found himself unable to travel further. "We're safe, we're OK," he said at Heathrow. "Now my daughter is going to get a shopping trip in London."

Hannah Pillinger, 24, seemed less concerned by the announcement. "Eight hours without an iPod, that's the most inconvenient thing," she said, waiting at the Manchester airport.

Most European carriers canceled flights to Heathrow because of the massive delays created after authorities enforced strict new regulations banning most hand baggage.

Tony Douglas, Heathrow's managing director, said the airport hoped to resume normal operations Friday, but passengers would still face delays and a ban on cabin baggage "for the foreseeable future."

"At this point in time it is unclear how long these restrictions will remain in place," he said.

Heathrow's block on incoming traffic applied to flights of three hours or less, affecting most of the incoming traffic from Europe, an airport spokesman said on condition of anonymity in line with airport policy.

Officials at Frankfurt's airport, Europe's second-busiest, Schiphol in Amsterdam and Charles De Gaulle in Paris said Heathrow-bound planes could instead land at their airports if they needed to.

London's Heathrow airport was the departure point for a devastating terrorist attack on a Pan Am airplane on Dec. 21, 1988. The blast over Lockerbie, Scotland, killed all 259 people aboard Pan Am Flight 103 and 11 people on the ground.

The explosive was hidden in a portable radio secreted in checked baggage.
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