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Security HOT TOPIC He believes that with Isis continuing


to fight in Syria and Iraq while extending its influence across Europe, the continent should brace itself for further attacks. Silke said: “Is the threat real? It obviously is. Terrorists have attacked airports and airliners over the past 50 years. Their goals might change and the violence might change, but the threat to airports is there.” His comments were backed up by


former EU counter-terrorism coordinator and senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics Gijs de Vries. He said attacks had been on the rise in the past few years with 38 people killed in Europe in terrorist attacks between 2009 and 2013.


Increasing atrocity By comparison, he said 151 were killed by terrorists in 2015, while in 2016 more than 61 people were killed in the airport attacks alone. Other atrocities such as the Nice attack in July killed 84 members of the public. De Vries added that Europol had also


foiled a further 211 attacks this year, with more than 1,000 arrests made in connection with them.


He believes the danger of further attacks remains very real in Europe as Isis fighters return from the Middle East in order to inspire the next generation of terrorists. De Vries said the fight against terrorism


is further compounded by the absence of any Europe-wide equivalent of the FBI or CIA to tackle the problem and failure of individual European police forces to share intelligence. However, he argued that it was


vital to continue fighting the problem in order to secure Europe’s safety now and in the future. De Vries added:


“Successful counter terrorism is about more than law enforcement. We must not only stop today’s


w Evolving approach to the safety threat


The attack on Brussels Airport in March last year represented the changing nature of the threat to the aviation industry. Speaking at the ACI Europe and Asia-


Pacific security and crisis management special summit in Brussels, Arnaud Feist, Brussels Airport CEO and ACI Europe immediate past president, said terrorists are evolving their tactics all the time. He said that while getting airside and hijacking aircraft had got harder for terrorists, thanks to improved security, they had simply found new places to target. Feist added: “The threat, which was mainly airside in the past, is changing. It is clearly moving over to the landside area, which is an open public space. It is no different from a train station or a supermarket.”


He said this meant more must be


done to pre-empt attacks in the first place and urged governments to focus even more on gathering intelligence to stop an attack at the planning stages. Feist added: “We have to catch those


terrorists before they ever think of going to the airport. Once they arrive at the airport, it is generally over and all you can do is limit the damage.” This is not to say an airport can do


stop the next generation from being radicalised”


“We must


nothing to protect itself. Brussels Airport staff are currently taking a number of measures in the wake of the attack on March 22, 2016. A total of 32 people were killed as three suicide bombers attacked first the airport, where 14 were killed, then the capital’s underground system. He said the number of cameras, which are equipped with facial recognition technology, had increased from 1,000 to 1,250


while blast reduction glass


could minimise the damage should there


be more explosions. Feist questioned whether a remote bag drop could be introduced while the airport’s 20,000 staff had also been urged


to remain vigilant for any warning signs. A joint control room has also had the benefit of ensuring


that staff from differing agencies now sit together and can better deal with an emergency as a result. However, Feist admitted that


improved security is part of a balancing act as the airport must still be able to handle efficiently its 23 million passengers each year. He added: “In conclusion, I would say obviously it will never be the same. The good news is we are back stronger than ever. “We launched our 25-year strategic plan last week and security is part of that plan. Zero risk doesn’t exist and I think we are all aware of that, but security is our top priority. “What we are all striving for is to give all of our passengers all of the time a safer experience.” The fact that Feist and his staff are


feeling so positive about the future shows just how much hard work has been done by staff since March. Feist said the key priority was the


safety of the public and there were more than 5,000 people requiring assistance on the day. This was just one logistical issue to deal with, though – the airport also had 10,000 bags left behind, while anyone who had driven to the airport was forced to go home without their cars. Despite these changes, and the damage done by the bombers, which had seen the departure hall severely damaged, Feist said they were able to get the airport back working on 100% capacity within 72 days. Passengers initially had to check in at a


marquee, where they all underwent safety checks. There was also a checkpoint for all cars arriving at the airport. However, Feist added that the new measures simply created targets elsewhere, so in May the airport partially reopened the departure hall before its full return was completed in June with 144 check-in desks up and running. Full scanning of 100% of the passengers was also scaled back and now three cabins at the entrance to the departures hall are used by police trained in behavioural checks to monitor suspicious-looking passengers. Feist said that some staff were


still recovering from the trauma with psychiatric help but added that a return to normality was the best way of beating the terrorists. He commented: “In the end, what


terrorists want to achieve is chaos, creating fear and slowing down the normal activity of the people in Europe.”


routesonline.com ROUTES NEWS 2017 ISSUE 1 61


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