Nigeria air travelers poured out liquids, opened their bags for inspection and endured long waits Tuesday as airports heightened security and some flights delayed after the discovery of a terror plot aimed at commercial airlines traveling within the country.
Per Second News gathered that the federal government raised its threat warning to the highest level for commercial flights across the nation’s airports following threats from ISIS to attack airliners across the globe.
The federal government has written to all relevant agencies to step up security and surveillance at all airports.
Nigeria airports and aircraft remain vulnerable to attack and exploitation by nefarious individuals,” said Bala Audu, a security expert on Tuesday morning. “Current security standards would likely fail to prevent a determined adversary with insider access from causing harm to an airport or aircraft, she said in an interview with this newspaper.
Audu, said that workers at the airport should be screened vigorously before access to the airports, he said most of the workers are only subjected to random screening and credentialing, exposing worrisome “security flaws” that could be exploited in “‘lone wolf’ attacks being inspired by terrorist groups like ISIS,” he said.
Over the past decade, several airport workers with access to secure areas -– including a cart driver at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport and, several years later, a jet fueler at the same airport –- have joined terror groups like al- Shabaab and ISIS. One contractor at Dallas-Fort Worth airport in the U.S even bragged to an undercover FBI agent that he could smuggle a bomb onto an aircraft for a $4,000 fee. (He was later arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 15 years.)
In March, Per Second News learnt that two officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) whose names were not disclosed, were arrested for ‘trafficking’ of 6 underage girls at the Lagos airport.
The officers were nabbed for allegedly trying to facilitate the trafficking of the six underage girls to Omar and Kuwait on an Ethiopian Airlines flight.
While smuggling weapons and bombs onto airplanes has become harder, crowded airport concourses around ticket counters and security checkpoints are still vulnerable to attack. Governments are grappling with this issue because as they add more sophisticated detection equipment and add more thorough security processes, the number of soft targets grows due to increased concentration of people who have yet to go through these checkpoints.
For example, in June, 2016, gunmen armed with automatic weapons and explosive vests staged a coordinated attack on the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey. In 90 seconds, the terrorist attack killed more than 40 people and wounded more than 230.
Similarly, on March 22, 2016, terrorists in Brussels coordinated three separate attacks, two of which took place at the Brussels Airport in Zaventem.
” The number of workers, touts at our airports is alarming and the government need to limit them, while subjecting them to strict security screenings, said Moses Obiora, an aviation expert.
This potentially new serious hazard isn’t coming from travelers, but from those who work at the airport itself.
Multiple aviation experts told Per Second News that the ‘Insider Threats’ to aviation security are on the rise and a serious concern at most airports in Nigeria.
While it may be impossible for airports to prevent every attack, a more visible law enforcement presence can serve as a deterrent.
Airports and government officials need to find ways to establish and maintain robust physical security while also limiting the soft targets that is a byproduct of increased security.