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Germany puts forward EU-wide air freight security plan

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere is to present a plan to thwart air freight terrorism to EU counterparts this week. The minister has expressed serious concern about fresh terror attacks against the West.

Packages at the Cologne-Bonn airport freght center

One proposal is to trawl lists for suspicious consigments

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said he will outline a five-point air freight security plan when he meets counterparts from across the EU on Monday.

The minister, who also expressed serious concern that new terrorist attacks were being prepared against Europe and the United States, is calling for tough controls on packages travelling by air.

German Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere

De Maiziere believes national measures are not enough

"National measures are not very effective," de Maiziere told the German Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag. "That's why, at my request, the interior ministers are going to discuss this question in Brussels on Monday. I am going to present a plan."

De Maiziere, who has often played down security worries in the past, told Bild that he was particularly concerned by a failed air freight terror plot originating in Yemen earlier this month.

"There are indications that have to be taken seriously of attacks in Europe and the United States," de Maiziere said. "Events have prompted me to express my concerns publicly for the first time."

Perhaps the most contentious part of the de Maiziere plan is a proposal to trawl databases of freight companies for information about suspicious packages, looking for suspicious shipments.

The minister cited the example of the failed air freight terror plot earlier this month, where explosives were found in air freight cargo heading for the United States.

De Maiziere said the fact that printer cartridges were being sent from Yemen to a Jewish synagogue in Chicago was "unusual" adding that such consignments "must be checked."

Blacklist of unsafe airports

Also featured in the plans is a proposal to improve monitoring of freight sent from countries judged to be unsafe as well as a blacklist of airports where security is found wanting.

Person in a black mask in Yemen

Terrorist groups are operating out of Yemen

As well as the Yemen bomb plot, concern about bombs being sent in parcels was raised last week militants by the discovery of explosive packages sent by Greek political extremists to embassies and the offices of national leaders including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Meanwhile on Saturday, a senior member of Germany's aviation authority was reported by the news magazine Focus as saying that colleagues had warned of security lapses in air freight as early as 2006. He added that little had been done to address the matter.

"To this day the personnel and material resources are not enough to be able to recognize the risk of an attack in time," the official said.

Author: Richard Connor (AFP, AP, dpa)

Editor: Sean Sinico

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