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Secretariat - Action against Terrorism Unit

Press release

OSCE hosts first-ever international workshop on threat of shoulder-fired missiles to civil aviation

VIENNA, 23 January 2004 - The growing threat that man-portable air defence systems (MANPADs) in the hands of terrorists pose against civil aviation topped the agenda of an international conference held jointly by the OSCE and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Vienna today.

"We know that al-Qaida and its affiliates possess MANPADs," said Brian Woo, head of the OSCE's Action against Terrorism Unit. "They have used them in the past, and no doubt will seek to use them again. The only question is: when?"

The meeting was unprecedented, he said: "The very fact that 40 OSCE participating States have sent civil aviation and counter-terrorism experts from their capitals to participate in the event demonstrates the collective concern and willingness to co-operate in the OSCE region," he added.

"It responds to the increased interest of the OSCE States - East and West of Vienna - in this concrete and practical approach in dealing with such new security threats", added Mr. Woo.

Discussion focussed on how the international community and national governments could improve physical security at airports and counter the threat against civilian aircraft.

The participants, who included representatives of NATO, the newly-formed Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), and the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee, also discussed the strengthening of national capacities in dealing with the problem.

The workshop was held with financial support from the Canadian Government.

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A man-portable shoulder-fired air defence missile launcher used in training by the Finnish Defence Forces. (Finnish Defence Forces)

A man-portable shoulder-fired air defence missile launcher used in training by the Finnish Defence Forces. (Finnish Defence Forces)