On multiple occasions this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via text messages to their mobile devices regarding new terrorism incidents and threats.
Starting last Saturday morning, AlertsUSA subscribers were notified of the crash of a Russian Airbus A320-200 in the Sinai peninsula, Metrojet Flight 9268, flying from Sharm el-Sheikh Egypt on the Red Sea to St. Petersburg, Russia, killing 224. Approximately 90 min later, AlertsUSA subscribers were some of the first in the nation to learn of a formal statement from the Islamic State claiming responsibility.
A portion of the written statement reads as follows:
"The fighters of the Islamic State were able to down a Russian plane over Sinai province that was carrying over 220 Russian crusaders. They were all killed, thanks be to God"
If you have been paying attention to the news, you know that the White House and mainstream media spent the early part of the week falling all over themselves to downplay the claim, attempting to focus attention on mechanical failures or faulty maintenance, including claims that there were calls from the pilots indicating technical troubles. On Monday, Metrojet officials made clear the crew did not send a distress call, that the aircraft broke up at a high altitude and the cause of the crash "could only have been a mechanical impact on the plane." Data available on flight-tracking websites clearly how sharp changes in altitude and a dramatic decrease in ground speed before telemetry was lost.
Midweek it was revealed that a U.S. military satellite had detected a midair heat flash from the Russian airliner before the plane crashed. Also on Wed, the Egyptian affiliate of Islamic State made a second claim of responsibility for downing the jetliner and said it would reveal further details of its involvement in due course.
On Wednesday, AlertsUSA subscribers were notified that the UK government had suspended all flights between the UK and Sharm el-Sheikh due to evidence indicating the aircraft may have been downed by a bomb. Air France, Germany's Lufthansa and most other major European airlines have not only cancelled flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, a top vacation spot for European travelers, but they are avoiding over-flights of the Sinai completely.
Also on Wednesday, ISIS released a second message calling the downing of the aircraft an achievement and threatening more attacks.
AIRLINES WERE WARNED
For the record, there are few U.S. airlines overflying the region, in part, due to a formal Notice to Airmen, or NOTAM, issued in early September by the FAA warning American carriers from flying in the region.
Quoting from the warning message:
'Exercise extreme caution during flight operations due to ongoing violence, unrest, security operations and the risk to safety from small-arms, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, anti-aircraft fire and shoulder-fired, man portable air defense systems (MANPADS).' (PDF)
AVIATION THREATS HAVE BEEN GROWING
Readers are reminded that on multiple occasions over the past two years, AlertsUSA Threat Journal has warned of growing threats to the aviation sector. In January of this year we warned that a new issue of al Qaeda's quarterly Internet magazine known as Inspire included what counterterrorism experts say appears to be the most detailed, and potentially lethal, bomb recipe published by al Qaeda to date. In addition, instructions are also provided on getting the bomb through airport security and even where to sit on the plane.
In July of last year, we reported on new warnings that Al-Qaeda in Yemen, despite the media narrative of their deep animosity with ISIS, was passing on bomb making expertise to militants fighting in Syria and Iraq.
And in Feb of last year, we reported on intelligence indicating Islamic terrorist organizations were working with methods for smuggling individual components for liquid explosives onto planes. It was this intelligence that led to DHS banning liquids, gels, aerosols & powders above a certain size within carry-on baggage.
AIRPORT SECURITY MEASURES INCREASING
On Friday AlertsUSA subscribers were notified that DHS/TSA would be increasing airport security measures. This includes airports in the U.S. as well as overseas and be enhancements that are both seen and unseen. For instance, some of the changes will likely include include matching luggage to flight manifests *before* take off, heightened security of airport workers to minimize insider threats, additional restrictions on what is allowed in your carry on, as well as more screening procedures for passengers and crew. The Department of Homeland Security is expected to announce the new plans soon.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO YOU
The net result is that if you are going to be flying during the upcoming holiday season, go into it anticipating lunacy and chaos. It would be wise to leave extra time on both sides of your flight to deal with problems and delays. Yea, it sucks, but it is what it is.
Keep in mind that while it would be easy to slam DHS/TSA, many of the headaches we experience in airline travel are the direct result of some aspect of political correctness.
As conservative writer Ann Coulter stated in a highly controversial 2010 lecture at Johns Hopkins University;
"Meanwhile, 100% of the terrorist attacks on U.S. airlines for 20 years have been committed by Muslims. When there is a 100% chance, it ceases to be a profile. It's called a description of the suspect."
AlertsUSA continues to monitor the overall domestic and international threat environment and will immediately notify service subscribers via SMS messages of new alerts, warnings and advisories or any developments which signal a change the overall threat picture for American citizens as events warrant.