Test of airport security fails in Slovakia using real explosives planted on passenger

Test of airport security fails in Slovakia using real explosives planted on passenger

Summary: Aviation executives are livid as a training exercise in Slovakia literately explodes with embarrassment within government security agencies. The BBC has reported that RTL Television in Slovakia reported a test of their security measures using passenger luggage without their knowledge

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Aviation executives are livid as a training exercise in Slovakia literally explodes with embarrassment for government security agencies. The BBC says RTL Television in Slovakia reported a test last weekend of Slovakian security measures - without their knowledge or consent - at the Bratislava Airport. It was implemented by placing 8 different types of contraband in passenger luggage including one with explosives. Seven of the items were found. But the last one containing the explosives was not, and was carried onward on-board a flight to Ireland. To make matters worse, no one from Slovakia alerted authorities in Ireland during the day of the exercise.

Imagine the surprise of the passenger that was carrying the explosives after Irish Police surrounded his flat, complete with a Bomb Explosives disposal team on the following Tuesday. The man was arrested and then later released.

As is stated in the BBC article;

Slovakian police alerted their Irish counterparts on Tuesday morning, and the man's flat near the city centre was cordoned off while bomb disposal experts removed the explosives for further examination.

The Slovakian minister for the interior had expressed his government's "profound regret" to Mr Ahern.

An Irish government spokesman said Mr Ahern has "ordered a full report into what has transpired".

Attempts to get comment from officials at airlines based in the U.K. and Ireland were unsuccessful. In a conversation with two other airline executives, one at Air Canada, the other with Delta Airlines, both condemned how passengers were used like laboratory test subjects. Delta's executive (who does not want to be identified) stated;

"I am not aware of this incident or type of training in the U.S. But as if we don't have enough problems as it is with an understandably, very irritated passengers- then this happens? It's unacceptable."

A senior executive who also does not want to be identified at Air Canada's commented;

"If this story is true, the public already lacks confidence in airport security, why would they even try this on passengers who are nervous flying, especially overseas and long distance flights.  In all my years of experience, this is without a doubt, the dumbest thing I have heard occur. The timing is incredibly idiotic!"

He went on to state;

 "Had we been notified about this kind of exercise, I would have said - not without telling our passengers you don't and I would strongly recommend against doing so in the first place. I would also ask why they don't use their own test subjects from the police force."

Irish officials, whom have extensive experience with terrorism, surely must be just as angry.

Topics: Government US, Government

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  • Telling

    The Slovakians obviously didn't get the memo. Instead of engaging in security theater, they foolishly treated air security like a real security problem and stress-tested the system. Which failed.

    No wonder we get quotes like the one from Air Canada: {i}If this story is true, the public already lacks confidence in airport security, why would they even try this on passengers who are nervous flying, especially overseas and long distance flights.[/i]

    Yup -- it's all about reassuring the public, not preventing actual attacks.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • And what if the passenger was

      shot at the other end for carrying a bomb, maybe because of some screw up in communications and no one the other end got the memo?
      John Zern
      • what memo...

        re-read the story - allegedly, they didn't inform Irish authorities until AFTER the exercise, and the "mule" had arrived home.

        Imagine if he had been detected at the airport... even worse, if he had flown into the UK, where he could have been held incommunicado for 28 days with no explanation, no access to legal representation, etc.

        Even worse, had he been shot, or 1-in-a-billion sympathetic detonation of the explosives. In the later cases, I wonder if the Slovakian authorities would have said anything...
        alewisa
    • It's about money as well

      How much do these supposed "whole body" x-ray scanner makers stand to rake in from installing these machine everywhere? Has anyone else noticed that the check-in personnel have dwindled while the average security checkpoint is overflowing with guards? Yes the public must be made to "feel" safe, and as long as they "feel" protected no expense or inconvenience is too great.
      oncall
  • It's not the first time this has happened

    Security teams routinely practice and exercise at airports. What is surprising is using actual passenger luggage in the process. Apparently this has also occurred in France with the exact same outcome - the team lost the explosives and still has not been recovered. This incident happened in December in 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4069785.stm

    You would think that such mistakes would be learned from. The process of using a real security agent checking in with luggage and ensuring it is tagged properly then at least gives the team knowledge of where the practice materials are, but somehow the French didn't follow that method.

    It seems Slovakia doesn't have a procedure of calling another airport either.

    As for some kind of conspiracy aimed at the manufacturer's of Scanning devices borders on the absurd in this particular security problem.

    I would find Virus software programs and hackers in collusion to be more plausible than what you are suggesting.

    Thanks for writing.
    Doug
    doug.hanchard@...
    • Far be it from me...

      To accuse anybody of a conspiracy. What I am trying to say, perhaps poorly, is that inordinate amounts of money is being spent in the name of "making us feel safer". Are the results proven? And I hear every time I fly "Yes it's getting rediculous but it's all about making us safe".

      I accuse scanner makers of nothing other than providing high-tech goodies that pander to our fears, not a bad line of work these days. I am sure we will all "feel" safer going through whole body x-ray units.

      P.S. Let me know if this is bad etiquette, but I just read an appropriate article:
      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34691602/ns/travel-rob_lovitt_columns/
      oncall
      • full body exposure to x-rays - safe?

        Really? Safe? Full body x-rays?

        "Lead jock straps for the frequent flier in your life."

        "Pregnant women banned from flights."

        "Frequent fliers report odd glow."
        Dr. John
        • Yea perfectly safe

          Not harmful at all. It will be fully calibrated and diligently maintained. It's for your
          own good... Really it is.
          oncall
  • RE: Test of airport security fails in Slovakia using real explosives planted on passenger

    Simple solution.
    Stay home and don't fly. Telecommute. That way only the people with bombs will be on the plane. Then who cares if they blow themselves up over the ocean, where they won't injure civilians.
    Then hit them with full body x-rays so they can't reproduce.

    How did the passenger get past Irish incoming security and all the way home? How come he didn't even know he was carrying explosives?
    Do they still ask if your luggage has been out of your personal possession?
    rketchum@...
    • stupid answers to stupid questions

      1. Flight was direct from Slovakia to Ireland,
      and explosives were plastic explosives, to test
      sniffer dogs, so unless there was an electric
      detonator stuck in the explosives, they were,
      and I stress this, 100% stable and safe.

      2. He didnt know as the package had been
      slipped into his bags without his consent. When
      you return home from a flight, do you spent the
      next two hours unpacking and sorting your
      clothes etc for washing? Do you go through
      every pocket? I just usually dump my bags in
      the corner, before showering, eating and either
      going out to meet my mates or curl up in bed,
      depending on the length of the flight.

      2. Luggage was altered after he'd checked it
      in, so asking if the luggage had been out of
      his possession would have been a bit redundant,
      wouldnt it?

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100106/ap_on_re_eu
      /eu_hidden_explosives
      "Slovak officials say they attached only two
      small packages onto the outside of one man's
      bag ? one a small explosive cache and the other
      a dummy that smells like explosives.
      A sniffer dog found the fake ? but the police
      officer in charge failed to remove the second,
      which was not detected by the dog, from the bag
      because he was busy, the Slovakian interior
      ministry statement said.
      That allowed 90 grams (3 ounces) of RDX plastic
      explosive to travel undetected through security
      at Poprad-Tatry onto a Danube Wings aircraft.
      The Slovak carrier launched services to Dublin
      last month."

      So it was passed into the "safe zone" post-
      check, and thus was considered safe and
      screened from that point on.

      Baggage would have been somewhat checked on
      arrival but to be honest, as they'd been
      "checked" at the source airport, no need to
      double check at destination airport unless the
      person was actually suspected of anything.

      And saying the Irish are actually like across
      the world instead of despised, theres also a
      much lower chance of explosive devices being on
      Irish bound flights....maybe if ye stopped
      blowing ppl up for oil that would be the same
      across the rest of the world
      2WiReD
    • How did the passenger get past Irish incoming security?

      The purpose of the airline security measures are to prevent someone from bringing the plane down or otherwise causing problems during the journey.

      What would be the point in checking the passenger after the journey has ended?
      FelicityPilchard
  • Air Canada Response

    The point isn't to re-assure customers, the intent is to test the system and make sure people know the reality.
    dogknees
  • RE: Test of airport security fails in Slovakia using real explosives plante

    "Slovak officials say they attached only two
    small packages onto the outside of one man's
    bag ? one a small explosive cache and the other
    a dummy that smells like explosives."

    I like this. all one needs in a inside operator (security
    personnel on the take) and somebody is gablooey! history.
    vilppuu@...
  • RE: Test of airport security fails in Slovakia using real explosives plante

    you don't get searched when coming off a plane - just asked
    for your passport
    james Sherry
  • RE: Test of airport security fails in Slovakia using real explosives planted on passenger

    This exercise was unorthodox but by forewarning anyone the outcome of the test/experiment would have been compromised. Airport government security must be randomly tested without announcement to anyone to truly access security measures. Will a terrorist forewarn airport government security?
    drsjks@...
  • RE: Test of airport security fails in Slovakia using real explosives planted on passenger

    Incredible. Astoundingly incredible. And to totally unacceptable that heads HAVE to roll, and soon! I researched this separately; NO ONE appears to be going to be held responsible for such a despicable, idiotic, flagrantly dangerous and imminentaly harmful incident! Harmful to the passengers, management, pilots & crew and anyone even remotely associated with such foolery.

    Just how stupid can people get?
    twaynesdomain-22354355019875063839220739305988
    • Harmful?

      How was this harmful to anyone but the idiots
      running "security?" Without a detonator, there
      was 0% chance of the explosives going off.
      Other than causing some disruption for the
      passenger, which should have been handled
      better (maybe by using a test subject that
      agreed to be tested?), this test was a SUCCESS.
      It demonstrated the shortcomings of the current
      system. Fix the problems instead of getting
      pissed of at the testers.
      ChaoticSun
      • Basicly I agree.

        The only harm done was when the idiots in Ireland kicked in the door rather than knocking and asking for the odd object the test subject must have found in his luggage.

        The Irish on their end failed to detect the explosives. That's a failure to detect on their end and a failure to us common sense when they were told the explosives existed but weren't going to go bang for a score of 0.

        The Slovaks found 8/9 of the packages which is good but not good enough. They should have reported it to the Irish sooner. On the other hand I'm more impressed by their being willing to test than by the TSA.

        The TSA found honey. Told it was honey they shut down an airport for hours. Even if they had found something more dangerous they should have removed it and kept going. Honey they should have been able to quickly identify. How incompetent can this organization get?

        Only time will tell but it is obvious the problem starts at the top and works its way down. At best middle and lower level staff can only follow the regulations given them. If those regulations are neither reasonable nor prudent they're going to run around acting like total idiots.
        deowll
  • RE: Test of airport security fails in Slovakia using real explosives planted on passenger

    How many Slovakians does it take to ... ?

    JEEEEEEEZZZZZZZZ!
    twaynesdomain-22354355019875063839220739305988
  • Close but no cigar.

    The Slov's did a realistic test, good for them. They didn't have adequate controls in place, doom on them.

    They used live explosives on a real flight. It seems "obvious" that they should have had very strong controls in place to verify that none of the "test" materials would actually make it onto the runway.

    I guess their experience with real explosions in the recent war makes them a little more blase about explosives without detonators. They know they won't go bang, until by some unfortunate chain of co-incidence (they happen all the time in real "accidents") some detenator does go off. OOPS.

    "All one needs an inside operator"
    well, duh, that has been true in any sort of crime. An insider will ALWAYS make defeating security an almost sure thing.

    One part of airline "security" that I do still have a problem with. The explicit trust in feeder airports. Once something has "passed" inspection it is always assumed safe. Given the insider threat, proved by the test, I really think that every piece of baggage should be re-inspected before it goes onto a new flight. Granted it wouldn't have picked up on this specific failure, but it would have caught other real bombs.
    Ron_007