‘Passenger Behavior’ Key to Catching Airline Terrorists
While the United States and other countries beef up airport searches for terrorists, an Israeli expert advises that eying passenger behavior is critical for preventing attacks.
Rafi Sela, a security consultant at Ben Gurion International Airport, explained to the Canadian news agency Canwest, "If you have a suicide bomber or somebody who wants to make an impact, he doesn't have to bring down a plane. He can just explode in the middle of this huge crowd that is waiting for security."
Sela's advice was given shortly after the United States announced stricter inspections following last month’s failed bombing of an Amsterdam-Detroit flight. Passengers overcame the terrorist, who had put together an explosive device on board. Following the incident, Amsterdam officials hastily installed expensive scanning equipment.
Airlines and other companies around the world have frequently studied Israel’s airport and airline security to learn how to combat terrorists. The United States often has been charged by minority groups with “profiling,” but Sela criticized security procedures that check everyone equally, regardless of whether he is a potential threat or a tourist who is among the majority of harmless travelers.
"You have to actually look for the things that are dangerous, and not just scan everybody," he advises. “This calls for a total change in approach to the transportation security issue."
Sela said that direct eye contact by security officials can help them spot abnormal behavior. Using such procedures probably would have stopped last month’s bomb maker if he had tried to board the plane in Israel - although no system is failsafe, Sela added.
He also noted that the security warnings that the U.S. State Department received on the terrorist would have red-flagged him at Ben Gurion Airport.
The United States has announced it is increasing body scans and physical inspections for all passengers from 14 countries that are considered prone to terror. They are Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.
The Transportation Security Administration said that the "majority” of all other passengers, including American citizens, will undergo stricter security searches.