Security sources warn of large-scale coordinated terror attack, look to possibly ban hand luggage
Al-Qaida is planning to blow up five passenger planes over Europe on Christmas, security experts told the British newspaper.
The terrorist plot has greatly concerned airline industries, so much so that they nearly banned all hand luggage ahead of the possible attack, according to the report that was published on Monday.
The threat of such a large-scale coordinated attack may also lead to the banning of electronic devices and mobile phones onboard aircraft.
News of the planned attack comes as British officials warned that a terror strike in the UK is imminent, pointing to the return of jihadists from Iraq and Syria after having fought alongside the Islamic State group.
"We've been told that five planes are being targeted in a high profile hit before Christmas. They've been waiting for the big one," an unnamed airport security source told the British newspaper.
"We have many scares but this one nearly got hand baggage pulled from all airlines. The threat is still alive and real."
According to the report, officials have known about the terrorist plot for two months and believe Islamists will attempt to smuggle explosives onto planes headed for major European cities just before Christmas.
Security officials said they are holding "high level negotiations," but have not managed to come up with any significant solutions to the threat.
"There is paralysis because of the difficulty of banning hand luggage which is one of the strongest weapons we have against the new threats," a source told.
He added that several measures had been proposed to counter the terror plot, including behavior analysis training for security at airports, but that it would be difficult to roll these out in time for the attack.
"Everyone is expecting something catastrophic very soon".
Authorities have allegedly known about the plot for two months, and claim that the Islamists plan to smuggle bombs aboard the planes, all of which would be headed for popular European destinations.