Flights containing unaccompanied freight from Somalia will be suspended in the wake of the cargo plane terror plot, Home Secretary Theresa May said today.
The suspension, which will come into force from midnight, is a "precautionary measure" based on "possible contact between al-Qa'ida in Yemen and terrorist groups in Somalia, as well as concern about airport security in Mogadishu", Mrs May told MPs.
Toner cartridges larger than 500g (17.6oz) will also be banned from hand baggage on flights departing from the UK and also on cargo flights unless they originate from a regular shipper with security arrangements approved by the Department for Transport, she said.
Mrs May was speaking after German officials said the two bombs contained 300 grams and 400 grams of the powerful explosive PETN. Just six grams can punch a hole in an aircraft fuselage.
"Had the device detonated we assess it could have succeeded in bringing down the aircraft," Mrs May said as she announced a review of all aspects of air freight security.
The Home Secretary said both explosive devices originated in Yemen and are believed to have been made and dispatched by al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap), which was responsible for the foiled Christmas Day attack on an aircraft bound for Detroit last year.
"The devices were probably intended to detonate mid-air and to destroy the cargo aircraft on which they were being transported," she said.
"Our own analysis of the device here - analysis which has to proceed with great care to preserve the evidential value of the recovered material - established by Saturday morning that it was viable: this means not only that it contained explosive material but that it could have detonated."
Mrs May said there was no information to suggest that another similar attack was imminent, but authorities were working "on the assumption that this organisation will wish to continue to find ways of also attacking targets further afield".
She added: "We will work closely with the aviation industry, screening equipment manufacturers and others, to devise a sustainable, proportionate, long-term security regime to address the threat."
Department for Transport officials were in technical discussions with the industry to discuss the next steps, she said.Reuse content