Russian Bomb Likely to Change Security Procedures
The recent Domodedovo Airport bomb blast outside Moscow, which killed 34 and injured more than 100, portends significant changes in security procedures worldwide.
No one has claimed responsibility for this crime yet, but Russian officials say it was a 20-year-old man from the northern Caucasus region on a suicide mission that caused the catastrophe. They are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.
The explosion occurred in the area where passengers are met, usually outside the baggage claim area and before one reaches the place where security stations are located. At times there can be large crowds at lobbies, ticket counters or other airport facilities in front of the security checkpoints.
For a terrorist, these unsecured areas, including curbside pick-up and drop-off points, represent ideal targets.
When I first heard of this disaster, I remembered that I had used this airport once for a flight from St. Petersburg. It was a pretty stark facility. Then I began to think about the futility of current security measures for those criminals really intent on causing harm with explosives.
There is at least one airport, Narita, outside Tokyo, that checks you, your auto, bus or cab, and sometimes your luggage, before you enter airport property. To add to the austerity, armored vehicles and tanks are at the ready. I believe this may have stemmed from years ago when rioters tried to overrun the airport. There are still security stations inside the terminal in addition to the checkpoint at the entrance.
The thought of moving TSA crews and scanning equipment outside to airport entrances is mind-boggling. Not to mention traffic jams and general confusion that might ensue, especially from places like the Grand Central Parkway or the Ted Williams Tunnel, bordering New York's LaGuardia and Boston's Logan airports respectively.
But the perimeter guard stations are not out of the question.
What are some other means to deter bombers who would sacrifice their own lives to the harm of others, like the ones in Moscow?
1. Drop-off points for luggage outside the airport. Travelers would pack and go to an official remote baggage check-in location and send their bags to the airport and plane a day before their flight. The size of the airport would determine how many of these baggage check-in locations would be available for passengers.
2. Curbside wanding. Passengers and their luggage and carry-ons would be wanded at curbside upon leaving their vehicle before entering the airport doorway. In addition to the use of security wands, trained dogs could be there to sniff out any possible perpetrators. Curbside areas would obviously have to be enlarged and covered. Inside security would then be on a random sample basis.
3. Machine gun patrols. Designate another level of TSA personnel who, instead of wandering airport halls on their break, in groups, would be armed and always watching for trouble. Nothing like the sight of a machine gun to curtail any funny business.
4. Remote locations. Develop areas away from airport terminals for pick-up and drop-off of passengers. The old Eastside Terminal in lower Manhattan used to ticket and check baggage for passengers, who would then proceed to their gates, unencumbered, via Carey bus.
What's scary about all of this is that airports are only one target for a determined fanatic. Crowds congregate in numerous places where security measures are either absent or minimal, such as ball parks, concert venues and train stations.
Regardless of any tightened security methods, it will most likely not deter more passionate killers such as those who have already transported explosives - unsuccessfully, thank goodness - in their shoes and underwear.
Andy Thomas lives in Pinehurst. Contact him at email@example.com.
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