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December 25, 2001
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New security measures at US airports

T V Parasuram in Washington

Security has been tightened at all American airports even as authorities are trying to determine whether the alleged Sri Lankan British citizen Richard Colvin Reid alias Tariq Raja who tried to blow up an American Airlines Boeing was a deranged loner or someone connected with a terrorist organisation like Al Qaeda.

Security officials are particularly concerned because the fact that he could board a commercial jetliner with explosives on his body demonstrated vulnerability in aviation security.

Authorities have issued a new security directive to airlines and airport authorities in the wake of the incident, the federal aviation administration (FAA) said on Monday.

The directive, issued later on Sunday, 'requires airports and airlines to take specific action' to step up security for aviation, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said.

The measure is mandatory for US airlines and airports, but was also issued to foreign carriers and airport authorities in an advisory capacity, Brown said.

Some passengers were on Sunday asked at airports to remove their shoes for scanning because the alleged terrorist who was overpowered by courageous flight attendants and passengers had a sophisticated explosive device in his shoes.

Aviation security specialists said the case raises several troubling questions such as why Reid was allowed on the plane at all, since he was carrying what appeared to French officials to be a dubious passport, checked no baggage for a foreign trip and had only a one-way ticket.

PTI

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