Port of Seattle Maritime Cargo

Bombs sent from Yemen prompt security review.

How Safe is Our Cargo?

April 2012, Number 03.02

“A shipping security gap was exposed when two printers containing the highly powerful explosive pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) were shipped from Yemen for delivery to two Chicago synagogues in the United States in October 2010. Would-be bombers took advantage of a security loophole that permitted parcels on U.S.-bound international flights and cargo-only flights without a scan or inspection, thus illuminating a weak link in the counterterror fight. The Yemen printer bombs each contained 300 to 400 grams of PETN set to explode over the densely populated East Coast of the U.S., Scotland Yard said.

As a result of the bombing attempt, the United States, Germany, France and the United Kingdom banned air cargo from Yemen and Somalia. Checked or carry-on bags could no longer contain ink and toner cartridges equal to or larger than 16 ounces (nearly half a liter). But some security experts insist that nations must do more to ensure cargo is properly scanned, not just for aircraft-crippling explosives, but also radiological “dirty” bombs that could impact millions of people. The latest cargo scanning technology promises better results, but shippers complain that the upgrades would cost too much and harm international trade...”

Excerpt from per Concordiam Staff, “How Safe is Our Cargo?” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 3, No. 2, 2012: 54-57.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.