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Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 05:35 GMT
US airports security scare
United Airlines jet
United Airlines faces a hefty fine
US Transport Secretary Norman Mineta said there was a security failure "of dramatic dimensions" at Chicago's O'Hare airport when a man carrying several knives and a stun-gun was allowed through by security screeners.

Mr Mineta said he was asking the Federal Aviation administration to punish United Airlines for the breach and a heavy fine is likely to follow.

Subash Bahadur Gurung
Subash Bahadur Gurung said he forgot about the weapons
Four security staff have been sacked and five others suspended after the incident on Saturday.

The weapons were only found in a last-minute check on the man's hand-luggage.

The FBI said Nepal-born Subash Bahadur Gurung, 27, told them the weapons were for his protection and he mistakenly forgot to pack them in his checked-in luggage.

He was arrested and charged with trying to carry a weapon on board an aircraft, a crime which can be punished by up to 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

A spokesman for the US Attorney's Office said there was no indication he planned any "illicit, nefarious" activity.

Federal control

Mr Mineta said that there had been other incidents at US airports and he warned airlines that they would be held responsible.

He said the necessary investment in airport security was still not being made after the 11 September suicide attacks on New York and Washington.

He also referred to the debate about new airline security legislation and said the federal government must take control of airport security systems.

The BBC's Nick Bryant
"There are still alarming gaps in the system"
See also:

22 Oct 01 | Business
Round-up: Aviation in crisis
26 Oct 01 | Americas
New anti-terror laws for US
16 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Pilots debate anti-terrorism measures
31 Oct 01 | Americas
America on edge
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