American intelligence officials have said that they have picked up indications that bomb makers from Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula have traveled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaida affiliate there.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently ordered the TSA to call for extra security measures at some international airports with direct flights to the United States. TSA does not conduct screening abroad, but has the ability to set screening criteria and processes for flights flying to the U.S. from abroad, according to a Homeland Security Department official, who was not allowed to discuss the changes publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
During an interview aired Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press," Johnson declined to speculate on whether new security procedures called for overseas will be required at domestic airports in the future.
"We continue to evaluate things," he said. "In this instance we felt that it was important to crank it up some at the last point of departure airports and we'll continually evaluate the situation."
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula long has been fixated on bringing down airplanes with hidden explosives. It was behind failed and thwarted plots involving suicide bombers with explosives designed to be hidden inside underwear and explosives secreted inside printer cartridges shipped on cargo planes.
Associated Press writers Will Lester in Washington and Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report.