The Department of Homeland Security is considering bolstering security at U.S. airports amid growing suspicion that a Russian airliner was brought down by a bomb, Fox News has learned.
Changes to screening passengers on flights coming into the U.S. were under discussion Friday at a meeting of senior representatives that included officials from the State Department, the Defense Department and the CIA, as well as a White House counter-terrorism advisor, two sources told Fox News.
Exactly what changes were under discussion was not immediately clear, but details could be confirmed by DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson as early as Friday.
The U.S. response comes after several days of statements by British and U.S. officials that it was possible a bomb brought down the St. Petersburg-bound Metrojet Flight 9268 just 23 minutes after takeoff from the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday, killing all 224 people on board.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to suspend all Russian flights to Egypt after recommendations from his chief of intelligence until a cause is determined.
Britain grounded all flights to and from the Sinai Peninsula Wednesday, after it determined there was a “significant possibility” the Russian airliner was brought down by a bomb. London approved the resumption of flights Friday, although passengers were only allowed to take carry-on bags with them.
If the DHS announces changes, they are expected to affect flights into the U.S. as well as cargo, although the specifics would be at a classified level, Fox News is told.
Changes were already planned in the screening process after screeners failed to detect weapons during tests by Inspector General employees in September. TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger testified Tuesday that the agency was on the cusp of implementing very different screening checkpoints, and that the system would be transformed within 5 years.
However, Fox is told that the Friday discussion is directly related to the downing of the Russian plane.
At this time there are no direct flights from Sharm el-Sheikh, nor do any U.S. carriers fly from Sharm el-Sheikh.