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THE destructive device found in a Virgin Blue jet at Sydney airport has exploded any complacency about airport security.
It comes at a time when ASIO is checking the background of thousands of airport workers after criminals and sacked employees were found to hold security passes.
This is particularly disturbing considering the chemical device might have been planted by someone trying to make a point about airport security.
Whatever the reason, it should not have happened, nor should the device have been carried from the aircraft's cargo hold to be X-rayed inside a crowded airport terminal.
Too many people just don't seem to get it about terrorism and the need for the most stringent security.
It may be that their lives will one day depend on it.
Incendiary Device Found on Australian Airliner
Thu Sep 23, 2004 12:38 AM ET
SYDNEY (Reuters) - A crude incendiary device was loaded into the cargo hold of an Australian Virgin Blue airliner to Sydney in a major breach of airport security, Transport Minister John Anderson said on Thursday.
The device consisted of a cardboard roll stuffed with thermite, which is used in grenades, attached to a fireworks sparkler. It went undetected by security and was loaded at a regional airport in Queensland state on Monday.
A baggage handler discovered the device when the flight landed in Sydney and then breached security procedures by taking it into the terminal.
Anderson said the incendiary device appeared to have been a hoax and security would have picked up a real bomb. Police and the government were investigating the incident, he said.
"At this stage on my advice you are not looking at something that could have potentially blown a plane out of the air having got through security," Anderson told Australian radio.
"I am relatively confident that if this had been a serious nasty, our security arrangements would have picked it up. The judgment was formed that this was a hoax," he said.
Australia intensified airport security after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, and counter-terror security was increased this month ahead of an Oct. 9 election.
David Huttner, a spokesman for Virgin Blue Ltd, said the airline believed a disgruntled airport worker was responsible and probably wanted the device to be found.[Sure, all low paid baggage handlers have some thermite just lying around the house...]
"It was not something that goes boom, it was something that burns, which means somebody had to be there to light it," he said.
"It was clearly placed there by somebody who had access to the airfield because it didn't go through checked baggage."
A hoax bomb threat forced a United Airlines flight bound for Los Angeles to return to Sydney in July. The flight was ordered to return when flight staff discovered the letters "B O B" -- possibly meaning "bomb on board" -- scrawled on a sick bag in an aircraft toilet.
Australia has not been hit by a major terror attack on home soil, but its embassy in Jakarta was rocked by a suicide car bomb that killed nine people and wounded 182 two weeks ago.
In 2002 the bombing of two nightclubs on the Indonesian holiday island of Bali killed 202 people, including 88 Australians [which allowed PM Howard to finally help out Bush in Afghanistan. The Aussie military had already trained on the Global Hawk in the months before 9-11-01, and Aussie militarists were itching to find some rationale for drawing the whole Orwellian 'Oceania' of Anglo-American-British-Aussie countries into an international crusade.] The Bali bombings were [conveniently] blamed on al Qaeda-linked Islamic militant group Jemaah Islamiah [--despite the fact an Australian military witness noted that right before the explosion, all electricty in the vicinity powered out--which is the EMF signature of a small micro-nuke device. This was reported in Austraian mililtary newspapers-- until a gag order was placed on the story/officer. Have a good day.]