US air security further tightened in wake of bomb plot

Random screening at Washington Reagan National Airport, 5 January 2010

Airport security has already been stepped up

The US is taking additional air security measures in the wake of last month’s airliner bomb plot, a senior official has said.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the measures included enhanced random screening and more air marshals on some routes.

Ms Napolitano referred to the “continued threat” from al-Qaeda.

The US had already boosted security following the attempted attack on a trans-Atlantic jet on 25 December.

A 23-year-old Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has been accused with trying to detonate a bomb on a flight to Detroit and has been charged with the attempted murder of 290 people. He has pleaded not guilty.

Air marshals and better screening were among the measures announced by US President Barack Obama after an intelligence review last week.

‘Systemic’ failings

Ms Napolitano said on Thursday that the US was “taking an additional set of aviation security precautions to protect the American people”.

“Some of these measures include enhanced random screening, additional federal air marshals on certain routes and adding individuals of concern to our terrorist watch list system,” she said.

“As a result of these measures and others we have put in place since Christmas, travellers should allot extra time when flying – particularly into the United States from overseas.”

Mr Obama has criticised “systemic” intelligence failings over the plot.

Last week he announced that he had ordered an immediate strengthening of the terrorist watch list, information on security risks would be distributed more widely, and analysis of that information would be improved.

Mr Abdulmutallab’s name was on a US database of about 550,000 suspected terrorists, but not on a list that would have subjected him to extra screening or prevented him from boarding a flight to the US.

He caught the flight to Detroit from the Netherlands, after connecting from a flight from Nigeria.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the failed bomb attack.

An Emirati woman and her children walk past Burj Dubai, the world's tallest tower, in the Gulf emirate on January 3, 2010. Dubai prepares to inaugurate on January 4 the world's tallest tower, a symbol of its unbridled ambitions of recent years, amid continuing fears over cash problems facing the emirate which narrowly escaped a financial catastrophe last month.


Dubai, inaugurated world tallest building the  Burj Dubai now named after the Burj  Khalifa, Shaikh Khalifa is President of United Arab Emirates.

Dubai on Monday officially inaugurated the centerpiece of its decade-long construction boom, with the surprise revelation that the world-beating 168-story skyscraper — seen by some as a symbol of the city’s economic excess — was even bigger than previously thought. In a glitzy firework-lit ceremony, the city-state’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum unveiled a plaque commemorating the event and also announced that the $1.5 billion structure has a new name: the Burj Khalifa.Named after Khalifa Bin Zayed, the president of the United Arab Emirates — and ruler of Abu Dhabi, which recently bailed out debt-ridden Dubai to the tune of $10 billion — the tower was officially recorded as 828 meters tall, adding 10 meters on to previous height claims.

Facts and figures: Why Dubai is looking up

While predicted economic recovery are likely to help Dubai to shake off some of its debt woes, if not fully regain its boom-time ebullience, some say the city’s path of prestige over practicality will leave projects like the Burj Khalifa struggling to justify their place in the Gulf state’s skyline.

“Dubai doesn’t really need to have to build tall asides from prestige purposes,” Jim Krane, author of “City of Gold: Dubai and the Dream of Capitalism” told CNN in a recent interview.

“If you look at it, it’s a really bad idea. It uses as much electricity as an entire city. And every time the toilet is flushed they’ve got to pump water half a mile into the sky,” he said.

The telescopic shape is also presents problems of a more practical nature Krane says.

“The upper 30 or 40 floors are so tiny that they’re useless, so they can’t use them for anything else apart from storage. They’ve built a small, not so useful storage warehouse half a mile in the sky,” he said.

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