Canadian airports to check drink containers for bombs
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Friday, December 24, 2010 9:33PM EST
Canada's airport security authority is following its U.S. counterpart's lead by putting passengers' insulated beverage containers under greater scrutiny before people board a plane.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration warned travellers Friday that insulated drink containers will be checked by employees at airport security checkpoints because terrorists could use them to hide explosives.
The measure is indefinite and "based on intelligence," the TSA said.
Within hours, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority issued its own advisory outlining its plans to do the same for flights to and within Canada.
"The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority now requires all passengers to remove insulated beverage containers from their carry-on baggage and place them in a bin for inspection," CATSA said in a one-sentence statement on its website.
Spokesman Mathieu Larocque said CATSA is following a directive from Transport Canada.
U.S. officials said the TSA's move isn't related to any specific or imminent threat, and Adm. James Winnefeld told The Associated Press it is an example of officials trying to anticipate terror tactics.
Experts outside government saw it the same way.
"This happens every year. Expect it every year," Michael Sheehan, a former counterterrorism coordinator with the U.S. State Department, told NBC. "But it doesn't necessarily mean that there's any specific information regarding an attack against the United States."
Kamran Bokhari, Middle East and South Asia director with global intelligence firm Stratfor, said the new rules were a response to the "slick innovative skills" displayed by al Qaeda.
"This is the holiday season in the Western world, and it is a time at which al Qaeda and its allies would like to be able to strike," he told CTV News.
Passengers carrying this type of drink container will encounter X-ray screening, physical inspections and "explosives trace detection technology," the TSA said in a notice posted on its website.
"TSA is carefully monitoring information related to terrorist tactics and working with our international partners to share information and security best practices," the advisory reads.
Despite the risk, empty insulated containers aren't banned from travel. They are permitted in carry-on and checked baggage, but liquid policies still apply at security checkpoints.
Air travellers expressed mixed emotions about the announcement.
"It's kind of annoying. I mean the next thing it will be you can't bring your purse or lip gloss," said Dawna Harrison. "But if it keeps us from getting blown up in the air I guess we'll deal with it."
The TSA reassured the public its officers are trained to detect explosives concealed in common items such as drink containers.
With a report from CTV's Joy Malbon