Security forces must react within seconds

WASHINGTON • An international expert on airport security says that until security forces develop the ability to react to terrorists within seconds, airports will remain vulnerable to attacks.

"If you look at the tactics used by the terrorists in Istanbul, they started by shooting. If the response would have come in a matter of seconds and was effective enough, they probably would have been dead before they detonated their devices and before they managed to cause a large number of casualties," said Mr Rafi Ron, a former security chief at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport who now works as an airport security consultant in the United States and other countries.

Mr Ron declined to say what form the response should take. "I don't want to get into the technical detail. I don't think we should be discussing the defensive tactics," he said. "There's more than one way to respond in a matter of seconds."

He pointed out that airports are familiar terrorism targets, with an explosion that killed and injured dozens in Moscow five years ago and the attacks in Vienna, Paris and Rome in the 1970s. Attacks in Brussels and Istanbul this year are the latest.

"There is a lot that can be done," said Mr Ron, who was instrumental in setting up the current security system in Tel Aviv. "It's not a common practice in most of the Western world. It is more common in the areas that are identified as high- risk areas. Certainly, at airports in war zones, I assume these types of measures are happening."

Israel's aviation security is among the tightest in the world. But in Europe, the US and other regions, passengers and others have easier access to airports.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2016, with the headline 'Security forces must react within seconds'. Print Edition | Subscribe