US security officials have uncovered specific cargo-related terrorist threats against US-bound aircraft, prompting the customs agency to tighten requirements related to air cargo reporting.
“[The Department of Homeland Security] has received specific, classified intelligence that certain terrorist organisations seek to exploit vulnerabilities in international air cargo security,” the agency says in a new rule made public on 11 June.
“Global terrorist organisations such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as well as their offshoots and associates, remain committed to targeting international commercial airline operations in order to maximise the effects of their terror campaign,” the rule adds.
The Department of Homeland Security has therefore changed the deadline by which airlines must file cargo security reports with Customs and Border Protection.
Under a rule that takes effect 12 June, carriers must file those reports prior to when the cargo is loaded on aircraft bound for the USA, according to the rule.
Carriers already submit similar reports to US customs officials, but, in most cases, those reports are not due until four hours prior to a flight’s arrival, documents say.
The reports describe the cargo and include other identifying information aimed at helping US officials identify high-risk cargo.
“It is essential to perform a risk assessment earlier in the air cargo supply chain, prior to the aircraft"™s departure,” says the rule. “This risk assessment must be based on real-time data and intelligence available to determine if the cargo posed a risk to the aircraft in flight.”
Because the rule takes effect so soon, officials will “show restraint in enforcing” the rule for 12 months, it says.
Several US cargo airlines did not respond immediately to a request for comment…