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It’s Time For Bomb And Weapons Detection At Airport Perimeters
March 23, 2016
Image: Wochit News

Yesterday morning, the world awoke to yet another terrorist bombing in Europe.

But this attack struck fear in the heart of travelers, as the first explosions were at the check-in area of Brussels Airport, followed by another at a central subway station.

The current death toll is at 34, with upwards of 200 wounded.

‘Soft’ Targets

Terrorists simply walked into the unsecured areas of the airport and subway station and exploded their bombs. As expected, security measures were on heightened alert around the world,

These public areas before security – such as check-in spaces or the security lines themselves – have long been mentioned as “soft targets” that could be seen as terrorist targets.

In addition, the departure and arrival areas outside of airport security usually provide a sizable pool of potential victims that can be attacked without having to smuggle weapons past security. This is why experts recommend travelers minimize time they spend in the ‘soft’ areas of the airport.

It is not enough to have security checkpoints in-place for ticketed passengers heading to the plane or gates of airports.

Vigilance Is The New Normal

Security officers patrol inside New York_s John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.  March 22, 2016. REUTERS-MIKE SEGAR

Could we handle what happened in Brussels?

Given how short-staffed TSA is and the lines of hundreds congregated, waiting to get through security that stretches out the door – probably not.

Currently, anyone can walk in, there’s no security to get into an airport, to detonate a suicide bomb or spray a crowd with bullets.

Secure Airports Properly

It is high time to expand the buffer ring at airports and increase the checkpoints before entering the airport building.


Attacks are likely to follow – effective counter measures needed at airports

Mar 22, 2016
The Brussels Airport bombings may represent a new wave and form of terrorist attack: Killing and maiming as many air travelers as possible in major airports with multiple bombs.
After 9/11/2001 major airports in the US and elsewhere had National Guard and some bomb detection installed for airport perimeters. Both those protections have been taken down and terrorists can now enter airports with bombs without much likelihood of detection.
While aviation security has made bombing or hijacking of airliners much more difficult, airport security is generally wide open. This needs to be tightened with perimeter bomb and weapons detection or else more airport bombings are likely to follow. 
Every new type of successful terrorist attack in history always generates copycat attacks until effective counter measures are put in place.
Paul Hudson

Member, FAA/TSA Aviation Security Advisory Committee (1997-2007)

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