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Last November, I organized a seminar about. terrorism in aviation. In order to drive home the potential hazards to the students, we visited a large eastern U.S airport with the intention of acting like a terrorist group looking for targets of opportunity. What we discovered was, at times fascinating and at other frightening.

In general US airports have two areas where the visitors have access : a public area with little active security measures and a more secure area in the airport waiting and boarding areas. The less secure areas usually contain ticket counters, baggage claim, gift shops, restaurants and other airport services. Getting into the main areas involves going through a screening process that includes X-ray inspection of carry-on items and walking through metal detectors. Other security measures include limiting curbside parking at the terminal, securing unattended luggage and requiring that all passengers be identified by the airlines by use of a picture identification. In the academic exercise, the group made several notable security observations. 

Most of the trash bins in the terminal areas were set within larger concrete containers. An explosive set within one of these containers would likely to be directed upward. However, in several cases there were metals and fiberglass containers, sometimes adjacent to the concrete ones; also located around the terminal.

During visit, there were numerous announcements about how unattended baggage would be collected by the airport authority. At one point, our party observed an unattended umbrella propped against a wall near one of the screening areas. The umbrella was plain in view and in close proximity to constant foot traffic. It was over $45$ minutes before an airport staff member removed the umbrella. Most areas of the terminal were designed such that it was difficult to leave a bag unattended in heavily travelled areas of the terminal without it being seen. Our group specifically observed custodial staff going about their duties to see they were security conscious.

In general , we were quite impressed with the level of security. The most worrisome aspects of what we saw were that the effectiveness of active and passive security measures varied greatly, and that a group of people unschooled in the ways of terrorism could very quickly discover numerous opportunities for committing mayhem without being detected.

Which statement/s is/are is incorrect?

  1. US airports have two insecure areas where the visitors have access.
  2. The effectiveness of active and passive security measures varied greatly.
  3. The US airport authorities were quick in collecting the unattended baggage.
  1. Only I
  2. I, II
  3. I, III
  4. None of these
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