FLAW

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chang­ing pro­cesses if nec­es­sary. It is not help­ful – cer­tainly not best prac­tice – to have maps and draw­ings of one of the UK’s big­gest air­ports left in the street.

“It is serv­ing up in­tel­li­gence on a plate to peo­ple. It’s hugely em­bar­rass­ing and should not have hap­pened. In the wrong hands it could po­ten­tially be very help­ful and would save them a lot of time in plan­ning an at­tack.”

The Sun­day Mir­ror has passed the file to Heathrow in­tel­li­gence chiefs. The man who found it has been in­ter­viewed by air­port se­cu­rity chiefs.

In­sid­ers ad­mit­ted it sparked a “very, very ur­gent” probe and that it posed “a risk to na­tional se­cu­rity”.

One doc­u­ment high­lighted re­cent ter­ror at­tacks to il­lus­trate the type of threat Heathrow could face. It ref­er­enced the Ley­ton­stone Tube stab­bing in 2015, the Tu­nisia beach mas­sacre which claimed the lives of 30 British tourists the same year and the 2016 bomb­ing in Is­tan­bul’s Atatürk in­ter­na­tional air­port.

AT­TACK

And the mem­ory stick was found just days after US in­tel­li­gence warned Is­lamic State ji­hadists and al-Qaeda are plan­ning more mass-ca­su­alty at­tacks on the scale of the 9/11 hi­jack­ings.

Last year ter­ror­ists threat­ened to bring down a US-bound plane fly­ing out of Heathrow dur­ing In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions. Mean­while, US court pa­pers last year re­vealed an al-Qaeda leader per­son­ally trained a for­mer McDon­ald’s worker in bomb-mak­ing tech­niques to carry out a sui­cide at­tack in the ar­rivals hall at Heathrow – in­struct­ing him to tar­get pas­sen­gers from the US and Is­rael.

And ear­lier this month MI5’s Di­rec­tor Gen­eral An­drew Parker said the cur­rent ter­ror­ism threat was the worst in his 34-year ca­reer.

He de­scribed it as “mul­tidi­men­sional, evolv­ing rapidly and op­er­at­ing at a scale and pace we have not seen be­fore”.

Keep­ing Heathrow safe – with four pas­sen­ger ter­mi­nals and one for cargo – is a mighty task. More than 80 air­lines fly 75 mil­lion pas­sen­gers a year to 185

des­ti­na­tions in 84 coun­tries. A spokesman for the air­port said: “Heathrow’s top pri­or­ity is the safety and se­cu­rity of our pas­sen­gers and col­leagues. The UK and Heathrow have some of the most ro­bust avi­a­tion se­cu­rity mea­sures in the world and we re­main vig­i­lant to evolv­ing threats by up­dat­ing our pro­ce­dures on a daily ba­sis.

“We have re­viewed all of our se­cu­rity plans and are con­fi­dent that Heathrow re­mains se­cure.

“We have also launched an in­ter­nal investigation to un­der­stand how this hap­pened and are tak­ing steps to pre­vent a sim­i­lar oc­cur­rence in fu­ture.”

AIR­PORT GUARD TER­ROR GIFT USB mem­ory stick AIR SCARE Jet at Heathrow

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