Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Terrorist Overflight of Canada Follow-Up
We know this all too well in Canada: There is no difference if a bomb is in the passenger cabin or the cargo hold of an airplane. In 1985, unaccompanied luggage in an Air India jet blew up over the Atlantic Ocean. On that flight, 329 people died including 280 Canadians.
One of the worst attacks in history in terms of terrorism and Canada was not only the source of it but one of the main victims as well. And it could have been much, much worse. A Canadian Pacific Airlines flight also carried a bomb and in the process of when it was being transferred to an Air India flight at Tokyo's Narita Airport. Two baggage handlers in Japan died while transferring the bag. Hundreds of additional people could have died had the transfer happened.
Canada did a terrible job investigating the Air India terrorist attack. We have also done a poor job on the issue of security for air cargo, not just unattended baggage.
The bomb used on the Air India flight was inside a Sanyo tuner. The explosives on the UPS cargo jets were inside toner in copy machines.
How little we learned.
We concentrate on taking naked pictures of people with a scanner and terrorists can simply mail a bomb without even going to the airport and takes just as many lives.
Apparently, the bombs on the UPS jets were first carried by passenger airlines.
The Emirates flight that Canadian CF-18s escorted doesn't seem to have had any issues once it landed in New York. However, it is now apparent it could have.
The sad thing is that this hole remains open and we remain vulnerable.
Only an intelligence report detected this and it happened after the aircraft in question had taken off.
I don't know that this can be considered a victory because it could have ended very badly since the explosives had been transferred a few times via airlines.
I still don't know what Stephen Harper and the Conservative government response to this is. Do we have a plan to stop cargo luggage from certain countries? Is there a timetable to check all cargo packages? Do we have enough overseas intelligence to protect ourselves from attacks?