This week US Customs and Border Protection introduced new security measures for incoming air freight, citing risks of terrorism.
“[The Department of Homeland Security] has received specific, classified intelligence that certain terrorist organizations seek to exploit vulnerabilities in international air cargo security to cause damage to infrastructure, injury, or loss of life in the United States or onboard aircraft,” the agency announced in a government publication.
“In order to deter and disrupt terrorist threats to U.S.-bound aircraft via air cargo, DHS must ensure that high-risk cargo is identified prior to the aircraft’s departure for the United States,” said the agency. To that end, Customs and Border Control and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now require that cargo security reports are filed before the cargo is loaded onto aircraft.
US government officials can then order airline crews not to load cargo deemed suspicious, though the agency has not detailed the information used in this assessment.
Security screenings for air cargo are not currently as extensive as they are for passengers, but the document cites a “security vulnerability” that was exposed in October 2010 when Yemeni terrorists placed concealed explosives within air cargo, designed to go off as the aircraft passed over the North American continent.
The new measures do not appear to have caused much disruption to current air freight volume, however, due to automated processes that already transmit data well ahead of take-off.