Recent events appear to demonstrate AQAP’s ability to identify and target security vulnerabilities. Having failed to execute an attack using a passenger-borne device at the end of 2009, the group looks to have to switched to a more exposed target.
Weaknesses in air freight security have been highlighted repeatedly by security experts and academics since 9/11 without achieving significant change to international standards. The volume and scale of air cargo worldwide is so vast, that there is significant resistance from carriers and end users to screening every package at an airport. By comparison, security checks for passenger aircraft and luggage are much stricter. There is no universal mechanism for screening freight cargo, with some countries relying purely on sniffer dogs. The fact that the packages were sent from Yemen to a Jewish organisation indicates that very little scrutiny was given to individual packages, and that the ‹risk-based approach› favoured in the Chicago Convention is not evenly applied.