Sunday Times, January 25, 2004
Britain deploys first sky marshals
David Leppard and Adam Natha
"Armed sky marshals have been deployed for the first time on British passenger jets to guard against hijackings by Islamic terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda.
Police and government officials confirmed yesterday that members of Scotland Yard?s elite SO19 firearms unit had travelled undercover on a ?small number? of flights between London and America."
N.B. we are skeptical about the details of any unattributed "Police and government officials" sourced stories reported by the Sunday Times, given their record of spin and disinformation.
"The sky marshals, who have trained with the SAS for close-quarters combat, are now flying in pairs disguised as ordinary passengers. They carry Glock 9mm pistols which are thought to be loaded with low-velocity bullets that would kill but would not pass through a victim and risk puncturing the fuselage.
Why would a large Glock with reduced charge ammunition be better than a more easily concealed revolver, which is less likely to jam ? What about all the air-tasers and rubber bullets etc. ? Any "details" from a Sunday newspaper story from unattributed sources needs to be viewed with caution.
It is understood the marshals are seated in first class and business to be near the aircraft?s cockpit."
So is the flight deck locked off with an armoured door that cannot be opened until the aeroplane lands ?
"The flights have been selected at random. S019 officers had previously voiced concerns that if they were to be assigned only to flights where there was specific intelligence of a heightened risk, the planes should be grounded.
The first deployment was made on or around January 9 on a passenger flight out of London, after the fiasco involving BA London to Washington flight 223"
So if there is no specific intelligence threat, and there is no assurance that there are actually sky marhals on every flight, then what is the point ?
Our questions about liability and increased risks to passengers caused by sky marhals have not been answered.
What assurance is there that the secret "random" presence of sky marshals on a particular flight does not produce a negative weighting on an individual passenger's secret database profile being compiled by dozens of UK and US government surveillance systems ?
This snippet at the end of the article is also worrying, and confirms the perception about the US Government's "War on Tourism":
Up to a dozen Muslim cabin crew members at British Airways are refusing to fly to American destinations because they believe they are being singled out by immigration officials for ?discriminatory? security checks lasting up to three hours on arrival.