A jury convicted a former British Airways computer specialist of plotting with U.S.-born extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki to blow up an airplane in an attack intended to kill hundreds of people.Al Qaeda continues attempts to penetrate airline security measures by any means necessary. Using someone in Karim's position would allow al Qaeda access to security measures, the means to evade them, and access to airports and airlines so as to carry out future attacks.
Rajib Karim, a 31-year-old Bangladeshi man, was found guilty Monday of four counts of engaging in preparation for terrorist attacks.
He already had pleaded guilty to five other terrorism offenses, but denied plotting an attack in Britain.
A jury deliberated for 16 hours before agreeing with prosecutors who said Karim used his position at the airline to conspire with al-Awlaki, a notorious radical preacher associated with al-Qaida and thought to be hiding in Yemen.
Karim had contacted Awlaki and Awlaki asked Karim to research how to put a bomb or a person with explosives on board an aircraft.
This scenario is yet another reason why airline crews need to be screened just as passengers - the possibility that al Qaeda or a lone wolf jihadi inspired by extremists may be among the air crews and ground staff of airports and could attempt to circumvent security measures to carry out attacks against the planes and their passengers is an ongoing threat. So, while measures to expedite those crews and staff through screening makes sense, eliminating those screening measures would open a gap in security that al Qaeda could potentially exploit.