Terror Attacks: Experts Urge FG to Reinforce Security at Airports

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By Chinedu Eze

The federal government has been enjoined to reinforce security at the nation’s airports to forestall possible terror attacks.

The experts gave the advice, following a resurgence of terror attacks on airports around the world.
They recommended among others, more intelligence rather than physical checks at the airports, deployment of hi-tech equipment to monitor activities at the airports as well as quick responses to emergencies.

According to the experts, the world has recorded many terror attacks in recent times due to new terror organisations that have sprung up “to destroy the world”.

The attack at the Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul on Tuesday with 41 people dead marked the second tragic attack at airports this year.

According to records, in 2007 Glasgow International Airport was attacked and in the same year there was the JFK New York attack plot, the 2013 Beijing airport bombing and the Wichita airport bomb attempt in the US.

There was also Jinna International Airport, Karachi bomb attack in Pakistan and in 2015, there was SabihaGokcenairport bombing and on March 22, 2016, there were three coordinated bombings in Belgium; two attacks at Brussels airport in Zaventem and one at the metro station.

Aviation security expert and the CEO of Scope Centre, Adebayo Babatunde, told THISDAY that terrorists succeed when there is security breach, which in the case of airport, would enable terrorists to have access to the terminal and detonate their weapons of destruction, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDS).

Babatunde said every security apparatus must have very intelligent community, noting that when there is failure of local intelligence, terrorists may have their way.

He said: “What this tells us is that intelligence is the most potent weapon to tackle these problems.
How does it work? We are in the cyber age where everything happens in the flash of a second and therefore terrorism has a lot to do with cybercrime. Countries are investing to counter cybercrime technology, such that the state security is able to manage and nip in the bud potential terrorism act.

“It is very simple, if you don’t invest in the latest cyber terrorism technology and the latest counterterrorism, you cannot and you will not be able to counter this. It tells us one clear story; that we must focus our attention on intelligence and investment in e-technology solutions.”

Babatunde explained that to effectively check security, passengers should be screened from the point of entry to the terminal and this means that government must invest in security.

“What do you invest in? You have to invest in solutions that can detect availability of IEDs and on person’s terrorism weapons. Today’s solution is that you have to look at the entire airport security architecture. Do we have adequate remedy for the level of threat that pervades the world today? Are we able to prevent situation as it happened in Brussels and Istanbul? Are we able to do that in Nigeria? This is because you should not forget that security breaches don’t happen everyday. It never happened in Brussels. It happens once and once it does it has maximum economic damage,” he added.

The security expert also recommended that the government should look at what is on ground and start building it from there, urging that government should have a comprehensive risk assessment of the airport environment.

Also the President/Chief Executive of Sabre Network West Africa and current President of the Aviation Round Table (ART), GbengaOlowo saidaviation security (AVSEC) is a serious business too vital to be handled by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

He said AVSEC should be under National Security as it involves so many agencies wielding various powers, noting that US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) should be Nigeria’s case study.

“Private Airport Companies of Nigeria (as recommended) will be profitable like other world airports if professionally pursued. Heavy deployment of technology centrally managed and coordinated will enhance security better than the many checkpoints by various individual agencies presently,” Olowo said.