The U.S. aviation system remains vulnerable to attack by terrorist groups, with noncommercial planes and helicopters offering terrorists particularly tempting targets, reports the New York Times, quoting confidential government report. Al Qaeda may have discussed plans to hijack chartered planes, helicopters, and other general aviation aircraft for attacks because they are less well-guarded than commercial airliners, says a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security two weeks ago. The assessment said that Al Qaeda appears determined to study and test new American security measures to “uncover weaknesses.”
A separate report from Homeland Security concluded that prioritizing possible targets – a task many Democrats say has lagged is critical because “it is impossible to protect all of the infrastructure sectors equally across the entire United States.” The aviation sector has received the majority of domestic security investments since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, with more than $12 billion spent on upgrades like devices to detect explosives, armored cockpit doors, federalized air screeners, and additional air marshals. Some legislators and security experts consider airplanes so well fortified that it is time to shift resources to other vulnerable sectors, like ports and power plants.