Terrorist plot may have involved Rīga flight

Hijacking an airplane from Rīga International Airport, where security is not as high as in some Western European facilities, may have been explored two years ago by terrorists intent on striking Heathrow Airport in London, the newspaper The Sunday Times reported Oct. 9.

Citing British intelligence sources, who were responding to a White House list of Al-Qaeda attacks prevented by the United States and its partners, the newspaper reported that terrorists considered hijacking an airplane in Eastern Europe and crashing it into Heathrow, potentially killing hundreds of people.

The paper reported that “an Al-Qaeda cell had been spotted carrying out reconnaissance at an airport in eastern Europe, possibly in Poland, Latvia or Estonia.”

The list of 10 terrorist plots thwarted by the United States and its partners was released by the White House on Oct. 6 following President George W. Bush’s speech on the war on terror. No. 6 on the list refers to the Heathrow Airport plot.

“In 2003 the U.S. and several partners disrupted a plot to attack Heathrow Airport using hijacked commercial airliners,” according to the list. “The planning for this attack was undertaken by a major 9/11 operational figure.”

British authorities, according to The Sunday Times, considered closing Heathrow in response to the threat. Also suspected was a potential mortar attack against a passenger plane at Heathrow. The attacks were expected in February 2003.

About 712,000 passengers were served at the Rīga airport in 2003, according to the airport’s Web site. That number has almost doubled this year. A total of 19,504 aircraft movements were logged at the airport in 2003.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

6 thoughts on “Terrorist plot may have involved Rīga flight

  1. Hi,

    I don’t see that there is a need to tighten the security at Riga airport. I visited Latvia in 2003 and found that the standard of security is same as many other airports in the Europe.

  2. Hey,
    Agree with previous comment. Traveled to RIX in September’05 and found security levels apparently equal to destinations all over Europe. Excellent service and organization.

  3. The appearance of security may be the same, but I flew out of Riga this summer (05) and had forgotten to take out from my purse my small “fold-up” tool set that includes a 4″ knife, little saw, screwdrivers, among other tools. It is pretty large – approx. 5″ long stainless steel. The purse went through the security xray machine & nobody questioned anything. It didn’t really seem like the person checking the carry-on xray screen was really interested in what they were doing. In the US I have been stopped with my little 2″ pocket knife and even my nail clippers with a pointed file every time…

  4. I happened to be in Moscow on the same 9/11 of 2003 (waiting with my family for our connection flight to Riga) and was astonished to see the departure security procedures of a Moscow-Chicago flight on that day. The airport staff cruitinized up to inhumane level every single passanger!!! This makes me question — how much security is too much? Isn’t America now pushing the whole world into the same paranoid red-scare (“terrorist-scare”) craze it went through in the post World War II years?

  5. Hello,
    My question is that how far we can go on the name of secutiry? What I see after 9/11 that too much security is troubling passengers. As far as Riga airport is concerned, I think security is good enough.

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