The House Homeland Security Committee chairman issued a warning about the intent of Islamic State group’s bomb makers to blow up passenger jets.
Rep. Michael McCaul said that one of the “most disturbing” and pressing national security threats is the terror group’s efforts to target airlines, according to the Washington Examiner.
“The crown jewel is aviation and they are still seeking to blow up airplanes even though they might not be able to hijack it,” he said.
This statistic has led to some of the fighters fleeing across the globe to plot attacks such as blowing up passenger airliners, McCaul said during a national security address at George Washington University.
Last year, the Department of Homeland Security temporarily banned laptops from flights from counties after it was discovered that terrorists were trying to turn personal electronic devices into bombs.
“I can’t go into the classified space of where they are but we know they are out there. We know they’re intent on making these bombs. The threat was actually worse than I thought,” McCaul said. “I found this to actually be one of the most disturbing, and quite frankly what keeps you up at night, question.”
It is proving to be difficult to counter this threat because of inadequate security in some airports such as Istanbul and Cairo.
“I can tell you, these are not secure airports,” McCaul added.
The House Homeland Security chairman said that the U.S. needs to deploy more airport security scanners that use computed tomography, a next-generation 3-D technology, the Washington Examiner reported.
“I’ve seen these devices,” McCaul said. “They work.”
CT scanning would allow for more in-depth baggage scanning and is currently used outside of the U.S., according to Fed Scoop.
The Transportation Security Administration originally requested $150 million for 300 CT machines, but the White House reduced it to $75 million for fiscal 2018.
“Now that’s a lot of money. But in Washington, when we talk about billions of dollars, $150 million to protect Americans on inbound flights from some of the most dangerous spots, last departure airports, in my judgment is worth every penny,” McCaul said. “And I’m not going to have that on my head.”
According to McCaul, the request to expand funding for the technology has been hindered by “bureaucratic red tape,” the Washington Examiner said.
“I know everyone on the committee on both sides of the aisle see this as, like, a ‘not on our watch’ type of thing. This is not going to happen on our watch and we are going to fully deploy it,” he said. “I see this as one of the biggest threats and something we need immediate action on. Congress is doing that and I know the TSA administrator wants that, we just have to back him.”
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