British home secretary slams door on cargo from Yemen, Somalia
Authorities have determined that the suspicious package from Yemen that was found on board a UPS cargo flight in the U.K. was an operable bomb. While the Yemeni student believed to be responsible has been arrested, the Guardian reports that British Home Secretary Theresa May is taking no chances. Unaccompanied cargo from Somalia or Yemen – areas where al-Qaida and other known terrorists are believed to operate – will no longer be allowed into the United Kingdom.
Yemeni cargo restricted, security on full alert
Both the United Kingdom and the U.S. are on full alert, as the suspicious Yemeni cargo – consisting of altered printer toner cartridges – affected UPS shipments by air and truck. According to Home Secretary Theresa May, “all aspects of air freight security” are under review. The ban that originally existed for cargo from Yemen has been extended to Somali freight. In addition to freight, any printer toner cartridges more than 500 grams in weight will not be allowed as carry-on luggage on commercial flights, and only cartridges that come from known suppliers will be allowed in checked luggage.
On red alert, May says don’t panic
Labour Party member of Parliament Ed Balls told the Guardian that Home Secretary May has handled the Yemen cargo threat with the utmost calm. However, the reliability of current methods of checking cargo – as well as the British government’s brand of crisis response – are currently under investigation. Involving the Yemeni government in talks to stop terrorist plots at their source is a “shared goal” that Balls and others in Parliament believe is necessary going forward. The upcoming possibility of a 10 percent cut in the U.K.’s counter-terrorism budget doesn’t sit well with concerned lawmakers like Balls, writes the Guardian.
‘A constant battle’
Home Secretary May assured Parliament that the British government is committed to the “constant battle” against terrorism, and that Britain is “an international leader” in that regard. That extends to dealing with imported goods such as Yemeni cargo, too. May was also complimentary of British police, who handled a dangerous situation with aplomb. Once it is clear that bomb-detecting technology is able to recognize such devices as altered printer toner cartridges, however, security experts in the U.K. will sleep better at night.