WASHINGTON (AP) -- Despite knowing for decades that terrorists could sneak bombs onto planes, the U.S. government failed to close obvious security gaps amid pressure from shipping companies fearful tighter controls would cost too much and delay deliveries.
Intelligence officials around the world narrowly thwarted an al-Qaida mail bomb plot last month, intercepting two explosive packages shipped from Yemen with UPS and FedEx.
But it was a tip from Saudi intelligence, not cargo screening, that turned up the bombs before they could take down airplanes. Company employees in Yemen were not required to X-ray the printer cartridges the explosives were hidden inside. Instead, they looked at the printers and sent them off, U.S. officials said.
The scare is prompting officials in Washington and around the world to rethink air cargo security. Lobbying by the multibillion-dollar freight industry has helped kill past efforts to impose tough rules.