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Crammed carry-on bags prompt new airport security measures

TAMPA, FL. Too many of us are stuffing too much into our carry-on bags. In fact, travelers cram so much into their carry-on items that TSA screeners struggle to find signs of explosives or weapons. Currently, all passengers are required to remove laptop computers from carry-on bags. But in the future, all electronics larger than cell phones, as well as food items and thick books, may be screened in their own bins.

The following airports are experimenting with this enhanced security screening process:

  • Boise (Idaho) Airport
  • Colorado Springs Airport
  • Detroit Metropolitan Airport
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood (Florida) International Airport
  • Logan International Airport in Boston
  • Los Angeles International Airport
  • Lubbock (Texas) Preston Smith International Airport
  • Luis Mu oz Mar n International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

The TSA will analyze if the screening method improves the screening process, and whether or not it speeds up, or bogs down, lines.

If the pilot program is a success, the TSA may roll out the program to all airports, with new rules implemented after the summer travel rush, once screeners are trained, and announcements made.

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  1. ^ Follow Meredyth Censullo on Facebook (www.facebook.com)
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Manchester bombing probe expands with arrests of suspects on two continents

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Wait 1 second to continue. MANCHESTER, England The investigation into a suicide blast that killed at least 22 people at a pop concert dramatically widened Wednesday, with security services on two continents rounding up suspects amid fears that the bombmaker who devised the bolt-spewing source of the carnage remains at large. The arrests stretched from the normally quiet lanes of a northern English town to the bustling streets of Tripoli, where Libyan officials said they had disrupted a planned attack by the suspected bomber’s brother.

But by day’s end, British authorities acknowledged that they remained vulnerable to a follow-up attack, with the nation’s state of alert stuck at “critical” the highest possible level. The sight of soldiers deploying at London landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street underscored the gravity of a threat that was known in general terms before Monday night’s explosion but has come sharply into focus in the 48 hours since. The morning after the attack, police had said they believed that the suspect, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, a British citizen, had carried it out alone and had died in the blast he triggered.

But in their statements Wednesday, authorities expressed growing confidence that Abedi who had recently returned from a trip to Libya and may have also traveled to Syria had been only one part of a web of plotters behind Britain’s worst terrorist attack in more than a decade.

“It’s very clear that this is a network we are investigating,” Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said. Hopkins said police were moving quickly to disrupt the group, carrying out raids across the city and arresting four people, including Abedi’s older brother, Ismail. A fifth suspect was later apprehended carrying “a suspicious package” in the town of Wigan, about 20 miles west of Manchester.

Manchester Bombing Probe Expands With Arrests Of Suspects On Two Continents

Soldiers walk with a police officer on Whitehall in London, Britain May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall

On Wednesday evening, authorities arrested a female suspect in Manchester and a man in the English Midlands town of Nuneaton, bringing to seven the number of people detained in Britain in connection with the blast. A raid by balaclava-wearing police at an apartment in central Manchester spawned speculation that authorities may have uncovered the location where the bomb was built, although that appeared to have been unfounded. Monday’s explosion claimed victims as young as 8 and targeted fans of U.S. pop star Ariana Grande, who was performing at Manchester Arena.

In conflict-scarred Libya, counterterrorism authorities said they had arrested at least two additional members of Salman Abedi’s family, including a younger brother suspected of preparing an attack in Tripoli. Ahmed Dagdoug, a spokesman for Libya’s counterterrorism Reda Force, said Hashem Abedi was arrested late Tuesday and is suspected of “planning to stage an attack in Tripoli.”

Dagdoug said Hashem Abedi had confessed to helping his brother prepare the Manchester attack. “Hashem has the same ideology as his brother,” Dagdoug said. Abedi’s father, Ramadan, was arrested Wednesday, although it was not clear on what grounds. Ramadan Abedi had earlier asserted that his sons were innocent, telling the Associated Press that “we don’t believe in killing innocents. This is not us.”

He said Salman sounded “normal” when they last spoke five days ago. The elder Abedi said his son had planned to visit Saudi Arabia and then spend the Islamic holy month of Ramadan with family in Libya.

Manchester Bombing Probe Expands With Arrests Of Suspects On Two Continents

A tribute to the victims of the Manchester Arena attack is displayed at Times Square in New York City, May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Dagdoug said Hashem Abedi had been in frequent contact with Salman Abedi and was aware of the plans to attack the concert. Dagdoug described Hashem Abedi as an operative of the Islamic State, which has asserted responsibility for Monday’s blast. It was unclear whether investigators believed that Salman Abedi’s relatives were a key part of the network planning the Manchester attack. But authorities were increasingly exploring the emerging connections between Britain and Libya. Salman Abedi, whose parents had emigrated from Libya to escape the rule of Moammar Gaddafi, was on the radar of British security services before Monday’s attack.

But Home Secretary Amber Rudd, the nation’s top domestic security official, suggested that he was not a major focus of any inquiries, telling the BBC that authorities had been aware of him only “to a point.”

Rudd said that Abedi had recently returned from Libya and that that was a focus of the investigators’ inquiry. In a highly unusual public rebuke, she also slapped down U.S. authorities for leaking information about the investigation, calling it “irritating.”

But even as she did, key details about the investigation were emerging from other allied capitals. Rudd’s French counterpart, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb, told broadcaster BFMTV that Abedi may have also gone to Syria and had “proven” links with the Islamic State.

Abedi was reported on Wednesday to have been a college dropout who had recently become radicalized. Security experts said it was unlikely that he coordinated the attack, and the BBC reported that he may have been “a mule” tasked with carrying out the bombing but had little role in creating the explosive or choosing the target. Of particular concern to British investigators was the possibility that the bombmaker was still at large and may be planning to strike again.

Manchester Bombing Probe Expands With Arrests Of Suspects On Two Continents

A Muslim man named Sadiq Patel and a Jewish woman named Renee Rachel Black walk by floral tributes in St Ann s Square in Manchester, Britain May 24, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Staples

Prime Minister Theresa May had cited the possibility of a broader network of plotters on Tuesday night when she raised Britain’s alert level from “severe” to “critical” and announced the deployment of troops to guard key sites. The impact on Wednesday was quickly visible.

In London, nearly 1,000 soldiers were sent onto the streets to help free up police. Cressida Dick, the police commissioner for Britain’s capital, said the troops would stay until “we no longer need them.”

Hopkins said there were no plans to dispatch troops in Manchester. But armed police were more visible in the streets Wednesday than usual, and Hopkins said the deployment of soldiers in London would make more police available in other parts of the country.

“It’s a very good thing. It’s visibility, it’s assurance,” said Geanalain Jonik, a 48-year-old tourist from Paris who was peering through the railings of Buckingham Palace. A similar military presence has brought reassurance in Paris since terrorist attacks there in 2015, he said. “We don’t have enough policemen, and when you see soldiers and troops in the streets, it’s better,” he added. “It gives you the sense of feeling safe.”

But despite oft-repeated statements of national resolve and a refusal to give in to terrorism, authorities were making some changes Wednesday in light of the security situation. Parliament announced that all public tours of the Palace of Westminster would be stopped. The Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace a popular tourist attraction was canceled.

Chelsea, the title-winning soccer club in England’s Premier League, called off a planned victory parade through London. The team said it “would not want in any way to divert important resources.”

The cancellations came as Britain continued to mourn the dead, with moments of silence and memorial services in schools, town squares and other sites. Hopkins sad Wednesday that medical examiners had finished identifying all of the victims and that an off-duty police officer was among the dead. Health officials said Wednesday that 20 people remained in “critical care” and were suffering from “horrific injuries.”

Monday’s attack has been condemned by leaders both global and local. The mosque where the Abedi family worshiped and where Ramadan Abedi had once been responsible for issuing the call to prayer on Wednesday denounced the blast and expressed hope that Manchester can heal.

“The horrific atrocity that occurred in Manchester on Monday night has shocked us all,” said Fawzi Haffar, a trustee with the Manchester Islamic Center, also known as the Didsbury Mosque. “This act of cowardice has no place in our religion or any other religion.”

Adam reported from London, and Raghavan from Tripoli, Libya. The Washington Post’s Souad Mekhennet, Isaac Stanley-Becker, James McAuley and Rick Noack in Manchester; Paul Schemm in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Devlin Barrett, Brian Murphy and Ellen Nakashima in Washington contributed to this report.

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The TSA is testing new ways to make airport security even worse

Airport security: two words that can strike dread into the heart of any traveler. Largely due to the slow process of checking your bags, along with the added hassles of emptying pockets and removing shoes, belts, coats, and laptops into extra bins.

Requiring passengers to remove more items from their bags at the security checkpoint

But there s good news! According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal[1], the TSA is looking to make that process even more complicated by requiring passengers to remove more items from their bags at the security checkpoint. To be fair, the changes aren t being done to slow down travelers rather they re due to the increase in passengers trying to cram as much stuff into carry-on bags as possible (a separate issue caused by airlines charging expensive fees to check bags), TSA screeners are having problems reading X-rays due to the cluttered contents. To that end, the TSA is looking to add items to the list of things that must be placed in separate bins. The procedures are still getting tested, but current proposals have suggested forcing passengers to remove all food and paper from their bags, in addition to laptops or other large electronics. According to Darby LaJoye, the assistant administrator for security operations at the TSA, the changes aren t due to a concern over any one item no one really thinks your apple is a bomb but about figuring out a way to get more stuff out of bags for faster X-rays. According to The Wall Street Journal, which items are required to be removed could change from airport by airport or on a line-by-line basis. Compliance might be optional for some items, with the downside that not-removing items could make you more likely to be slowed down with a manual search.

The TSA is hoping that the new rules won t add to people s time in line

It makes sense in a way, given that TSA staff must be able to identify all the items in a bag and manually check if something looks unsafe. But the TSA is hoping that the new rules won t add to people s time in line, under the assumption that the time lost removing stuff from bags will be made up in faster X-ray scans. As someone who has spent time in an airport security line before, I would posit that this is an optimistic outlook that borders on na vety regarding human nature. Members of the TSA Pre-Check program[2] (which requires an $85 application fee that must be renewed every five years and is granted or denied solely at the TSA s discretion) likely won t be seeing the changes.

The TSA is currently running small-scale trials of the changes in airports in Colorado Springs, Boise, Lubbock, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Boston, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, with changes set to be finalized in the coming weeks, with a goal of putting the new rules in place after the summer travel season ends.

References

  1. ^ new report from The Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com)
  2. ^ TSA Pre-Check program (www.loungebuddy.com)
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