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Terrorism Arrests and Aviation Security

Statements on Terrorism Arrests and Aviation Security (10/08/06)

The British Home Secretary, Dr John Reid, made the following statement concerning the major counter-terrorist operation conducted in the UK on 10 August:

'Overnight the police, with the full knowledge of Ministers, have carried out a major counter-terrorism operation to disrupt what we believe to be a major threat to the UK and international partners.

'The police, acting with the Security Service, MI5, are investigating an alleged plot to bring down a number of aircraft through mid-flight explosions, causing a considerable loss of life. The police believe the alleged plot was a very significant one indeed.

'At 2am this morning the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre raised the UK threat state to its highest level - "CRITICAL".

'This is now being publicly announced as I promised to Parliament last month.

'This is a precautionary measure. We are doing everything possible to disrupt any further terrorist activity. This will mean major disruption at all UK airports from today. But as far as is possible we want people to go about their business as normal.

'The police will provide an update on the operation later this morning and Ministers will keep the public regularly informed.'

The Transport Secretary, Douglas Alexander, said:

'Earlier this morning all UK airports and all airlines operating in to and out of the United Kingdom were asked to implement a heightened level of security and this step has been taken to ensure maximum security on all flights so people can go ahead with their travel arrangements. However, ensuring maximum security unfortunately will involve immediate and severe disruption for passengers with significant delays likely at all UK airports.

'What these changes mean in practice is that all hand baggage will now have to be checked in with only a small number of essential items allowed through search controls. Exceptions will be in place for those travelling with infants and for prescription medicines. Extra security arrangements will be in place for flights to the United States of America. Passengers wanting detailed information on these new arrangements for their individual flight should contact the airline they are using. Additionally advice on what will be allowed as hand luggage is also available on the Home Office, Department for Transport and Foreign Office web sites.

'This heightened level of security will last only as long as the situation demands, we will keep this under review. I will provide a further update later in the day and would ask all passengers to show patience and understanding in the inevitably difficult circumstances they will now be facing.'

ENDS

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