In the last three days, the governments of eleven countries have scrambled to elevate their preparedness levels for Islamist terror, or enforced extraordinarily stringent security measures. Another six governments have pursued these steps without fanfare.
Friday and Saturday, Jan. 22-23, India placed its airlines and airports and those of all of South East Asia -Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - on alert for a possible airplane hijacking by al Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taibem. The UK elevated its terror threat level from "substantial" to "severe" - one below top and suspended direct British airline flights to and from Yemen.
Last week, five Britons were apprehended at Islamabad airport attempting to pass their boarding passes to five others. Yemen itself stopped issuing entry visas at Sanaa airport. The British appear to fear a fresh spate of terrorism inside the country.
Although the Obama administration has not formally raised the current terror alert level, vigilance at all American airports and border posts has been radically heightened since a Nigerian terrorist tried to blow up the Northwest airliner on Christmas day. Since Jan. 4, the airlines and passengers from 14 listed countries have faced body screening before boarding flight to the United States. Last week, six people on the newly-expanded no-fly list were not allowed to board US-bound flights.
Saturday, US airport authorities were warned that at least two female suicide bombers of "non-Arab appearance" and bearing Western passports may have been sent to America by al Qaeda-Yemen - either to blow up US-bound flights or commit suicide attacks inside the country.
Referring to the failed airline bombing, tormer White House counter-terrorism adviser Richard Clarke told ABC: "There are others who are still out there who have been trained and who are clean skins - that means people who we do not have a record of, who may not look like al Qaeda terrorists, who may not be Arabs, and may not be men." . . . (continue reading)