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All passengers on U.S.-bound flights are checked against terrorist watch lists and law enforcement databases.

In some countries, U.S. officials are stationed in airports to offer advice on security matters. In some cases, though, the U.S. can do little more than hope that other countries follow the security advice from the Transportation Security Administration.

“Even if our technology is good enough to spot it, the technology is still in human hands and we are inherently fallible,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “And overseas, we have varying degrees of security depending on where the flight originates.”

Authorities believe that, like the Christmas bomb and the printer bombs, this latest device is the handiwork of either al Qaeda’s master bomb maker in Yemen, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, or one of his students.

In the meantime, Americans traveled Tuesday with little apparent concern.

“We were nervous — for a minute,” said Nan Gartner, a retiree on her way to Italy from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport. “But then we thought, we aren’t going anywhere near Yemen, so we’re OK.”

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Associated Press writers Kimberly Dozier, Ted Bridis, Bob Burns, Bradley Klapper and Alan Fram in Washington, Ahmed Al-Haj in Sanaa, Yemen, Verena Dobnik in New York, Paisley Dodds in London, Matthew Lee in New Delhi and Slobodan Lekic in Brussels contributed to this report.

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Contact the Washington investigative team at DCinvestigations(at)ap.org