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WASHINGTON — An internal Homeland Security Department
memo obtained by WorldNetDaily advises airports and
air carriers to tighten security over passenger
aircraft and air cargo during the holiday season.

U.S. officials explain that air cargo and the back
side of airports – known as the ramp, where jets are
serviced – are still relatively vulnerable to
terrorism more than two years after al-Qaida
terrorists hijacked and crashed four jumbo jets on the
East Coast.

Based on recent al-Qaida chatter, U.S. intelligence
remains concerned that the terrorist group plans to
use jets to attack nuclear, chemical or
hazardous-materials facilities during the holiday
season.

“Al-Qaida could attack U.S. LNG [liquid natural gas],
nuclear and chemical facilities (manufacturing and
HAZMAT storage) using aircraft, either passenger or
cargo aircraft, the latter loaded with explosives,”
warns the Homeland Security memo, which was
distributed Nov. 21 to federal agencies and law
enforcement.

“Additionally,” the document states, “we cannot
discount multiple attacks involving the use of general
aviation aircraft.”

The 5-page internal advisory, marked “For Official Use
Only,” recommends aviation security officials beef up
security beyond existing security directives and
emergency amendments issued by the Transportation
Security Administration. Existing directives focus on
the passenger side of the airport, where pre-gate
security screening is done.

Specifically, the memo advises officials to tighten
ramp, or airside, security, where the catering,
cleaning, fueling and maintenance of aircraft takes
place.

“Secure unattended aircraft to prevent unauthorized
use,” the memo recommends as one of several additional
protective measures. The Homeland Security Department
requested WorldNetDaily not publish the other
measures.

Despite concerns expressed in the memo, which was not
publicly released, the department has not raised the
terror threat alert for the public. It remains at
yellow.

Aviation security experts have complained that the
ramp is still open to terrorism. Planes that remain
overnight are “not guarded, and in fact, frequently
the door is open,” said Charles G. Slepian, an airline
security analyst in New York.

“So if you have access to the ramp, you have access to
the plane,” he said. “You just walk up the stairs and
you walk into the plane. And if you want to plant a
bomb, you can. And you leave the same way and nobody
is the wiser.”

Slepian and others also worry that planes are rarely
inspected for explosives and weapons. And ramp workers
are screened for them at only two of the nation’s 428
commercial airports.

Homeland Security press secretary Brian Roehrkasse
says that without congressional authority, the
department can only offer the private sector
guidelines on tightening ramp security. He says
Congress mandated that aviation security focus on
passenger screening in the wake of the 9-11
hijackings.

“But as you see in that document,” he told
WorldNetDaily, “we have given some fairly specific
stuff that they can use as part of designing their
security plans.”

The document also outlines an eight-point plan for
tightening air cargo security. Again, the government
has asked WorldNetDaily not to publish the protective
measures.

Unlike checked passenger luggage, air cargo is not
screened for explosives.

“Air cargo is not being inspected, and that is a big
concern,” Slepian said. “It is an extremely vulnerable
area.”

Roehrkasse explains that Congress mandated that only
luggage be screened for bombs.

“There was no direction given in terms of air cargo,”
Roehrkasse said in a phone interview. “There are no
explosive detection systems for cargo.”

He adds that such a mandatory system might be
cost-prohibitive. The giant explosive-detection
machines recently installed in airports, while the
size of minivans, still aren’t big enough to handle
large cargo.

“We spent several billion dollars just putting in the
EDS systems for the checked passenger luggage, and
you’ve seen them in the airports – they’re not that
big that you could have a giant parcel go through
them,” Roehrkasse said. “And the cost of creating even
larger machines that are the size of a house at all
cargo airports to have these things go through would
obviously be upwards of billions and billions and
billions of dollars.”

As WorldNetDaily first reported earlier this week, the
Homeland Security memo also warns U.S. law enforcement
to prepare for href="/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=35801">possible
al-Qaida car-bombings and href="/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=35825">cyanide-gas
poisoning of subways during the holiday season.
Fox News Channel and NBC News have confirmed the
exclusive reports.

Previous stories:

Homeland Security memo: al-Qaida could gas subways

Feds to cops: Prepare for car bombs

10 myths of aviation security

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