RealNews

U.S. Is Inspecting Overseas Airports for Missile Threats

The Bush administration has dispatched teams of aviation safety investigators to Iraq and to major capital cities in Europe and Asia to determine if their commercial airports can be defended against terrorists who might try to shoot down passenger planes using shoulder-fired missiles, senior American officials say. The inspections at airports in the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Basra — as well as in Athens, Istanbul, Manila and several other foreign capitals where American air carriers have regularly scheduled flights — are part of the administration’s response to recent intelligence reports suggesting that a terrorist attack using small heat-seeking missiles may be imminent, probably overseas. While the overseas inspections began several weeks ago, administration officials said they had not discussed them publicly until now out of concern that the information might prompt terrorists to attack before security was tightened at some of the airports being inspected. The concern in Iraq is centered on anti-American forces loyal to the former government of Saddam Hussein, while the concern elsewhere in the world involves Al Qaeda, which has been blamed for trying to shoot down an Israeli passenger jet last November. Terrorists fired two Russian-built shoulder-fired missiles at the plane as it took off from the airport in Mombasa, Kenya, barely missing the jet. Full Story

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