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Category Archives: Crime and Terrorism

Assault at Denver International Airport

I used to work as the assistant security director at Denver International Airport. When I saw the story about the recent sexual assault that took place int the terminal building it reminded me, as it should remind every aviation security practitioner and passenger and employee, that aviation security is not just about preventing terrorism, it’s also about… Continue Reading

Counterterrorism, Whack a Mole & the industry’s soft underbelly

A British Airways employee was just convicted of plotting to blow up an airplane. He had also been told by his handlers to find out if they could get a bomb or a person with a bomb on board a flight. Fortunately, Rajib Karim was only a computer tech – he had applied for but been rejected for a flight attendant’s position, which would have given him much easier access to the plane.

Just one day after Karim’s conviction, an airport worker with possible al Qaeda ties fired on a bus of American serviceman, killing two and wounding several others.

Aviation security is just like Whack-a-Mole. Whenever one threat is mitigated, another one pops up. The threat of employees within the system committing terrorist and criminal acts is one that pops up frequently. We need to quit hitting the mole’s head and start working on extracting it completely, through better background checks and better training, or it will pop up again, with deadly consequences. Continue Reading

Suicide bombing in Moscow Airport, could it happen here?

Based on the first reports, a suicide bomber has detonated an explosive device in the terminal building at the Moscow Domodedovo Airport. The explosion occurred near the the international arrivals section of the airport. Click here for USAToday report. Early reports is that at least 31 have died and an additional 130 are injured. Industry security experts have warned against this type of attack for several years, and this is not the first time airport terminals have been targets. Continue Reading

It’s finally gone too far

If you’re not aware of the ramifications of TSA’s new pat-down policy, click here. If the link is still active, what you likely saw was a TSA screener appearing to conduct a pat down search of a a small boy. Yea, I know it looks like he’s feeling him up, but according to our government this is a necessary process to protect the flying public.

Okay, it’s now officially gone too far. I of all people understand that kids, women, the developmentally disabled, and the elderly have all been used to smuggle bombs, carry bombs, or other criminal or terrorist purposes, but there is a much BETTER way to do this. There is a process we can use that with one look, would have told the screener that that particular kid is not a threat. Continue Reading

Securing Air Cargo; the air cargo bomb lottery

The recent attempt to either bring down aircraft using air cargo, or mail letter bombs via air cargo (we’re still not sure but I’ll go with the Brits on this and agree it was likely an attempt to bring down a plane) has shed light on a little known part of the aviation industry. This will inevitably bring air cargo security to the forefront of a legislative aid somewhere, who will be directed to draft legislation to make sure that air cargo is “secured.” Before the Congressional staffers fire up their laptops, let’s look at what we’re really trying to secure here, because I can tell you that someone will soon call for the screening of all cargo that is shipped on all aircraft to be screened just like we screen luggage. That is NOT the solution. Continue Reading

Air Cargo Bombs

The jury is still out on the air cargo threat that has been the talk of the news outlets today. We still do not know if this is an aviation specific threat or test of the security system, or a mail bomb with a specific delivery address in mind. It could also be a scare tactic towards an indvidual or organization. Continue Reading

Napolitano speaks in Denver on new threats

Napolitano calls on local police to become first preventers

The threat lives among us.

That was the message from Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano to a Denver audience on October 28th.

Napolitano was the featured speaker, in an event which also included current Denver Mayor and gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper, put on by The Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (www.thecell.org).

Napolitano’s focus was on the changing nature of terrorist attacks. After 9/11, the U.S. engineered itself to deter attacks from organized terrorist cells that came from outside the country. However, with several numerous attempts over the past couple of years by individuals that are also U.S. citizens, Napolitano notes that the threat is changing.
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This has been a test of the aviation security system

Remember when the Emergency Broadcast System would do those tests on TV? They still do from time to time, but without the threat of being annihilated by Soviet ballistic missiles, we don’t seem then much anymore. However, terrorists and bad guys continue to conduct tests of aviation security, and they just did another one. Click here for details.

When two men were apprehended in Amsterdam after traveling from Birmingham, AL to Chicago and Dulles, were found to have several items such as cell phones, watches, liquid bottles and box cutters taped together in their checked luggage your first thought should be that they were testing the aviation security in preparation for a future attack. Whether they were testing for a future bombing or hijacking attempt or just to be stupid, it was still a test. Continue Reading

Kids could be slaves; yea, it is a big deal

It seems that everyone has been quick to play down the journey of three underage travelers who decided on their own to fly from Florida to Tennessee (click here for article). Aviation experts, the airlines and TSA have all said that protocols were not violated. And, they are right.

However, the issue is not whether current protocols were violated, but whether we have the proper protocols in place. If we did, then this would have been a VERY big deal.

See, unfortunately, a hundred plus years after slavery, it seems there is still a huge problem in the human slave trade. We addressed this in Practical Aviation Security and it is a frequent topic in Aviation Security International magazine. However, human trafficking rarely makes headlines here in the U.S., even though much of the human trafficking takes place here. One of the biggest signs of human trafficking is children traveling alone. Continue Reading