Airport security tightens across Europe after Nigerian terrorist attempt
Airline passengers across Europe faced body searches and new limits on hand luggage. Authorities say that Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab of Nigeria flew from Lagos to Amsterdam before boarding Northwest Airlines Flight 253 for Detroit.
Airline passengers across Europe faced body searches and new limits on hand luggage Saturday after U.S. authorities requested tighter security in response to an attempt to bomb an airliner in Detroit.Skip to next paragraph
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U.S.-bound travelers were undergoing body searches at Amsterdam's airport, where authorities say Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab of Nigeria boarded Northwest Airlines Flight 253 and tried to set off an incendiary device as the plane was descending to its destination.
"The extra measures apply worldwide on all flights to the U.S. as of now and for an indefinite period," says Judith Sluiter, spokeswoman for the Dutch National Coordinator for Counterterrorism.
Passengers flying to the United States from London's Heathrow said they received text messages informing them that the hand baggage allowance had been reduced to one item. Airport officials also said security had been heightened.
"We got a text message this morning at about 11 a.m. to say that new rules meant we could only take one piece of hand luggage," said Karen Ward, from Reading, Berkshire. "I think they've handled it very well."
Italy's civil aviation authority, ENAC, said it had tightened security at airports for passengers leaving for the United States, with measures including increased manual body and baggage searches.
The extra measures were requested by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and will initially remain in place for 72 hours, ENAC said in a statement.
Dutch authorities said the suspect boarded a flight in Lagos for the Amsterdam connection. With flights generally reported on time Friday, the Nigerian would have landed on his KLM Boeing 777 before dawn and had a layover of nearly three hours at Schiphol Airport before the Northwest Airbus A330 lifted off for the nine hour flight to Detroit.
His name was on the passenger manifesto that routinely was forwarded to the U.S. before takeoff, and the list was cleared, Sluiter said. He had a U.S. visa valid for the first half of 2010, but Sluiter did not know what kind of visa he had or where it was issued.
An initial investigation showed that the Amsterdam security professionals conducted all the normal procedures for Flight 253 without irregularities, she said, though it's always possible that potentially dangerous weapons can elude the standard equipment.