News / Middle East

Foiled Detroit Airport Attack Highlights Israel's Security Success

Scene at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport
Scene at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport

Multimedia

Israel has what security experts say is perhaps the world's most effective system of screening air passengers.  Despite constant threats from Palestinian terrorist groups, no flight from Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport has ever been blown up or hijacked, and the airport has not been attacked since the early 1970s.  This success is due to a sophisticated system that combines intelligence reporting, profiling, and state-of-the-art technology for detecting weapons and explosives.  

It's another day of stringent security checks at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport.

About a million passengers pass through the airport each month, on average. But here, the lines move quickly thanks to what Israeli security experts say is an approach that - unlike other countries - relies more on eye contact with passengers and less on technology.

Pini Schiff is one of the founders of Israel's airport security division and was formerly in charge of security at Ben Gurion airport. He now heads a security company that advises the Israeli government. "We are focusing on the passenger.  Who is the passenger.  If the passenger is bona fide by his background, his suitcase does not have to be checked very carefully.  If the suspect is characterized as a suspect passenger, he will be checked deeply," he said.  

Most people clear security within 30 minutes. Here, not everyone has to take off their shoes,  dump their water bottles, or go through body scans.  

This reporter was not allowed to video the screening process. It includes a 25-second interview in which agents determine why a passenger has come to the airport, where he or she has been and is going, and the person's general background.  "Your aim is to locate, to find the one passenger that is a terrorist and is carrying explosive material under his possession. You have to characterize the passengers and  to focus on those who are suspected and it's less than one percent," Schiff said.

Narrowing the number of people to scrutinize means agents can clear thousands of passengers more quickly than if every one has to undergo thorough body and luggage searches. 

Israeli security agents say it would probably be impossible for someone like the suspected Christmas day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board an airplane at Ben Gurion without being stopped.  He was a 23-year-old Muslim male traveling alone, without checked luggage, and a ticket paid in cash.

Israeli security experts say their profiling system is complex and does not single out Muslims specifically.

Nir Ran, head of the Homeland Security Academy near Tel Aviv is a former head of aviation security at the Shin Bet, Israel's internal security agency. He also directed security operations at the Israeli airline, El Al. "The passenger himself, arriving to the flight with a bomb in his suitcase will not necessarily be a Muslim, will not necessarily be a young man, or the terrorist himself. On the contrary, in most of the cases, past experience teaches us that the people carrying the bomb to the plane were non-Muslim young women," he said.

Palestinians complain about the profiling and rarely use Ben Gurion airport, opting instead to fly from Amman in neighboring Jordan where they usually face less scrutiny.

Some of the scanners and detectors currently being promoted have been developed in Israel.  Pini Schiff says they are effective but technology alone cannot do the job. "The right thing to do is to put the technology as a circle in order to complete the profile system.  Profiling and technology together gives you the best result in checking outgoing passengers from the country," he said.

Israel's system might be in some ways controversial, but it has made for a near-perfect record.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs