Sunday, April 17, 2016

German Police, Airport Officials Call for Security Review: Call comes amid concerns existing security procedures aren’t adequate to detect weapons

The Wall Street Journal
April 17, 2016 2:48 p.m. ET

BERLIN—German police and airport officials Sunday called for a review of how security checks are handled at airports amid concerns existing procedures weren’t adequate to detect weapons that could potentially be used to target flights.

German public television WDR said inspectors from the European Union, which is in charge of assuring member states comply with airport security regulations, in a test in February were able to repeatedly smuggle weapons and bomb components through checks at Cologne-Bonn Airport. More than 10 million people last year passed through the facility, which has become a hub for budget airlines.

A spokesman for the German federal police, which is responsible for airport security, refused to comment on Sunday. The European Commission and German interior ministry said they wouldn’t comment on the classified findings of aviation security inspections.

German police unions Sunday called for a review of the current setup for passenger screening at the country’s airports, which in recent years has led to a high degree of outsourcing to private security firms.

“We want the federal police to again take 100% control over it,” said Ernst G. Walter, head of the German federal police union DPolG. “These are counter terror measures and the state should be fully in charge here.”

Concerns over airport security have heightened world-wide in recent months after a spate of terrorist attacks, including last month’s bombing of the Brussels Airport departure hall that killed at least 16 people. The Islamic State affiliated suicide bombers struck before passing through security checkpoints.

Belgian transport minister Jacqueline Galant resigned last week amid allegations that she ignored warnings over shortcomings in security monitoring at the country’s airports. The EU executive had repeatedly warned that the country’s civil aviation authority wasn’t conducting sufficient checks at Belgian airports.

Other attackers have managed to make it past security checkpoints to the more secure part of an airport. Islamic State sympathizers managed to smuggle a bomb on a Russian jetliner departing Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh airport, killing 224 people onboard. Earlier this year, a bomb was brought onboard a Daallo Airlines plane departing Mogadishu Airport. The bomb detonated in flight, killing one person, though the crew managed to land the plane safely.

EU transport ministers met last week in Amsterdam. One of the agenda items was potential actions to be taken to enhance airport security. The issue is due to be raised again in June.

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