Posts tagged Airport
Rabie Abdullah, Egyptian Al Qaeda Suspect, Arrested At Airport.
CAIRO — An Egyptian suspected of belonging to Yemen’s branch of al-Qaida was detained Thursday upon arrival in Egypt from Yemen, an airport official said.
The official said the man, his Yemeni wife and three children returned to Egypt on Thursday with false documents.
The official said interrogators identified the man as Rabie Abdullah, convicted in absentia to five years in one of Egypt’s largest terrorism trials in the 1990s. He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The new al-Qaida leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, was sentenced in the same case along with more than 100 others, most of them in absentia. The suspects were convicted on charges ranging from forgery to conspiracy to topple the government.
The 42-year old Abdullah denied the charges against him during the airport interrogation, the official said, and he will get a retrial.
The official said Abdullah left Egypt in 1991 for Turkey, Yemen and Afghanistan. He lost his passport in Afghanistan and returned to Yemen using a fake identity. There, he is suspected of joining the local al-Qaida branch, the official said.
Abdullah told his interrogators he returned from Yemen because of the conflict there and that he wanted to settle in Egypt, the official said.
Yemen is home to one of the most active al-Qaida branches, which has been linked to several nearly successful attacks on U.S. targets, including the plot to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner in December 2009. The group has been emboldened by the current turmoil in the impoverished Gulf nation.
TSA Gives Pat Down to 6-Year-Old Girl in New Orleans.
A new video on YouTube is causing an uproar, as critics question why Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents at the New Orleans airport gave an intense pat-down to a 6-year-old girl.
The video shows a female TSA agent explaining the security procedure to the child’s mother and then having the 6-year-old girl spread her arms and legs for the pat-down, which includes “sensitive areas,” in the words of the agent.
The child complains and the mom asks if re-scanning might be an option. The TSA agent replies, “no.” The agent does try to calm the girl, telling her she has “pretty hair,” and appears to conduct the pat-down in a gentle manner.
The incident occurred at Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans last week.
The family in the video is from Kentucky, and the mom, Selena Drexel, tells ABC’s “Good Morning America” that they were returning from a vacation when their daughter, Anna, underwent the pat-down. Anna’s father, Todd Drexel, says his daughter started to cry afterward.Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Louisiana, questions why the child wasn’t taken to a private area and whether the screening was even necessary.
“A 6-year-old child shouldn’t be subjected to this kind of treatment in the first place if there’s no reason to suspect her or her parents of being criminals,” she tells CBS affiliate WWL New Orleans.
TSA spokesman Nicholas Kimball tells AOL Travel News the agency “has reviewed the incident and determined that this officer followed proper current screening procedures.”
However, he notes the TSA is in the midst of planning changes in line with TSA Administrator John Pistole’s call for risk-based security screening.
“As part of this effort TSA has been actively reviewing its screening policies and procedures to streamline and improve the screening experience for low-risk populations, such as younger passengers,” the agency says in a statement.
But a congressman is questioning whether the incident seen in the video did in fact violate rules that call for a “modified” pat-down for children 12 and under.
“This conduct is in clear violation of TSA’s explicit policy not to conduct thorough pat-downs on children under the age of 13,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, says in a statement.
This is not the first time the TSA has been criticized for rigorously screening children at airports and even on trains.
Air Traffic Controller Asleep “Willfully,” Babbit Tells Congress.
Weeks after planes landed at Reagan National airport despite a sleeping air traffic controller, the FAA is investigating another incident of a controller asleep on the job, CNN reports.As FAA administrator Randy Babbitt was being questioned by Representative Tom Latham (R-Iowa), the chairman of a transportation subcommittee, Babbitt revealed that there was another, more recent incident of a sleeping air traffic controller.
Babbitt declined to give further details despite further questions by Latham. The employee in question was “willfully” sleeping, Babbitt said, and would be terminated.
In March, an air traffic controller, three hours into his midnight shift, fell asleep on the job, leaving the control tower unmanned. Two commercial planes were preparing to land but unable to communicate with the tower so instead landed at a regional airport some 40 miles from Reagan.
In response to the incident, Babbitt issued a FAA directive ordered controllers at regional airports contact towers at other, bigger airports where there is only one controller on duty at night before sending planes on for landings, the Associated Press reported in March.
Exodus From Egypt Speeds Up, but Thousands Still Stranded.
CAIRO — EgyptAir’s staff scuffled with frantic passengers, food supplies were dwindling, flight information was nonexistent - and some policemen even demanded substantial bribes before allowing foreigners to board their planes.
Cairo Airport was in complete disarray, overwhelmed with more than 18,000 passengers who flocked to the facility before 3 p.m. curfew, airport officials said Tuesday. Tourists detailed of a litany of woes, as dozens of planes arrived from all over the world to handle the surging exodus of foreigners and Egyptians amid growing anti-government protests in Cairo. As many as 3,500 travelers remained stranded at the airport Tuesday evening.
The United States ordered nonessential U.S. government personnel and their families to leave Egypt and Germany expanded its travel warning to the entire country, including the Red Sea resort towns.Airport officials said the family of former Tourism Minister Zohair Garanah left Cairo on a private jet bound for Greece. The departure was the latest by a member of Egypt’s business, political or entertainment elite. Protesters have complained that Mubarak’s regime favored the rich at their expense, and several wealthy businessmen are members of the parliament.
Even having a ticket was no guarantee that tourists could get on a flight.
Five or six EgyptAir employees scuffled with passengers who were frantically trying to get seats on the few outbound flights it had available, airport officials said. There were no reports of injuries, but the incident spotlighted how days of political uncertainty, as well as massive crowds at the airport and little guarantee of securing a flight, had worn down peoples’ nerves.
“People holding tickets had difficulties getting on the plane, because the airport in Cairo is pure chaos,” Canadian tourist Tristin Hutton said after his plane landed at Germany’s Frankfurt airport.
“The terminals are full of panicking people. The ground staff is disappearing, and at the gate, just before entering, we all together had to collect $2,000 for a policeman at the door. … He would not let us pass without paying,” added the 44-year-old.
“We did not see the protests coming. All of us have been surprised,” said Brian Johnson, the deputy head of the Canadian International School in the Cairo, who left Egypt along with 34 of his colleagues.
New York-based Pamela Huyser, who had traveled to Egypt for a conference, arrived in Larnaca late Monday unnerved by the violence she witnessed from her ninth-floor hotel balcony in Cairo.
“You cannot even believe what we saw,” she said. “We saw people looting, we saw gunfire, people shooting other people. A lot of people working in our hotel, they came out with sticks and knives and bats and they protected us from getting looted.”
Greek oil worker Markos Loukogiannakis, who arrived in Athens on a flight carrying 181 passengers including 65 U.S. citizens, said travelers had to negotiate 19 checkpoints Monday just to get to the Cairo airport.
Madeline Murphy Rabb, a Chicago-based curator, said that a Nile cruise for her 66th birthday was interrupted by the protests, with passengers confined to the ship at Luxor for two days.
“The manager of the tour ship restricted us from leaving the boat because he feared for our safety,” Rabb said in a telephone interview from London on Tuesday.
Tens of thousands of European tourists flock to Egypt for winter holidays, and the big question tour operators and governments faced was what to do with tourists in other parts of Egypt. Tour operators say they will fly home all their customers this week when their holidays end, or on extra flights, stressing there has not been any unrest in Red Sea resort cities like Hurghada or Sharm el-Sheik.Britain said Tuesday it was not ordering staff to leave Egypt, but confirmed most diplomats’ family had left. The U.K. is advising against travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez.
However, about 15,000 British tourists staying in Red Sea coastal resorts have been told they are safe to continue their vacations.
Germany said Tuesday it was expanding its travel warning to include Red Sea resorts but not ordering evacuations. Some 1.2 million Germans visit Egypt each year.
The Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that the vast majority of Russian tourists in Egypt - some 45,000 right now - had no plans to interrupt their vacations. Konstantin Shvartser of the tour agency Pegas Touristik said only 18 of about 18,000 vacationers who had bought a package tour had asked to leave early.
In a twist, even Iraq decided it would evacuate its citizens, sending three planes to Egypt - including the prime minister’s plane - to bring home for free those who wish to return. Thousands of Iraqis had once fled to Egypt to escape the violence in their own country.
Russia Identifies Suicide Bomber in Moscow Airport Attack.
MOSCOW — The suicide bomber who killed 35 people and wounded 180 at Moscow’s largest airport was a 20-year-old man from the volatile southern Caucasus region, Russian investigators said Saturday.
Breaking a five-day silence over the probe, federal investigators also said foreigners were deliberately targeted, marking an ominous new tactic in Russia’s losing battle with extremism.
Islamist rebels from the Caucacus, a group of mountainous Russian provinces that are beset with an entrenched separatist insurgency, have been widely suspected in the attack at Domodedovo Airport.
Saturday’s statement from federal investigators confirmed a suicide blast involving a bomb containing shrapnel. While authorities say they know the identity of the perpetrator, they suggested they still don’t know who masterminded the attacks.”Despite the fact that we know the name of the terrorist, we won’t name him today … since investigative searches are ongoing to identify and detain the organizers and accomplices of the terrorist act,” the statement said.
Investigators also confirmed fears that foreigners had for the first time entered the terrorists’ crosshairs; the victims included one person each from Britain, Germany, Austria, Ukraine, Tajikistan. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. There were 16 Russian among the dead and the remaining 12 had not been identified.
“It was no accident that the terrorist act was carried out in the international arrivals hall. According to the investigation, the terrorist act was aim first and foremost at foreign citizens,” the statement said.
Chechen rebels have claimed responsibility for a number of deadly attacks over the years, including ones against the Moscow subway and at the same airport.
Bombing at Moscow’s Busiest Airport Kills Dozens.
Moscow officials believe a suicide bombing is behind a terrifying explosion today at the city’s busiest airport that killed at least 35 people and wounded 180.
Three men are thought to have plotted the explosion, the Russian news agency Interfax reported. The blast had the power of seven kilograms of TNT, Interfax added.”From the preliminary information we have, it was a terror attack,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told officials in a televised briefing after today’s blast. He also scolded officials for their failure to prevent the attack, The New York Times said.
President Barack Obama condemned the attack, calling it “an outrageous act of terrorism against the Russian people.”In an unconfirmed report, eyewitnesses told the Vesti 24 TV channel that two terrorists blew themselves up and had apparently been disguised as passengers in the international terminal of Domodedovo Airport.
A video apparently taken shortly after the explosion showed graphic images of the dead and wounded at the smoke-filled, chaotic airport. Officials said they could not be immediately sure of the number of dead and wounded because of all the thick smoke. The blast occurred at 4:32 p.m. local time in the arrivals area.Eyewitnesses described a harrowing scene.
“I heard a loud bang, saw plastic panels falling down from the ceiling and heard people screaming. Then people started running away,” Sergei Lavochkin told a Russian cable news service.
A man identified only as Yuri told another news channel that he and about 200 people around him bolted for cover when the explosion hit.”There were many people. If I were two meters to the side, I would have been badly hurt,” he said. “There was a bang, and all I remember is that the shock wave pushed me to the floor. My hat flew away, and I put my jacket over my head. Five seconds later, when the smoke cleared, I saw people running out.”
Russia’s Rosbalt news agency said the Federal Security Services were aware that terrorists were planning an impending attack, but were searching for the terrorists in Zelenograd, a town near Moscow.
Most witnesses cited by Russian media literally did not know what had hit them when they first heard the blast.
“We were walking out through the exit of the arrivals hall towards the car, and there was this almighty explosion, a huge bang. We didn’t know it was an explosion at the time,” Mark Green told the BBC.
“My colleague and I looked at each other and said … ‘That sounds like a car bomb’ or something, because the noise was, literally, it shook you,” Green said.
Moscow was put on a “high terror alert” after the blast, and Medvedev delayed his planned trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.The explosion was the deadliest in Russia since last March, when two female suicide bombers from Russia’s volatile Muslim-majority Dagestan region set off explosives in the Moscow subway system, killing 40 people.
Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov claimed responsibility for the March attack. He was seen in a video apparently made not long after the attack, saying, “The war will come to your streets, and you will feel it in your own lives and on your own skin.”
“It makes you feel as if you don’t want to leave your house,” Zamir Gotta, a Moscow book publisher who lives part time near New York City, told AOL News. “Now Russia is like London and New York and other places. No matter how strong the government, you can’t feel safe.”
TSA Defends Screening of Indian Ambassador.
(Dec. 10) — The Transportation Security Administration is defending airport screeners’ decision to pat down an Indian diplomat, an incident that has provoked public outcry in India.
Meera Shankar, India’s ambassador to the United States, was singled out for secondary security screening on Sunday at Jackson-Evers International Airport in Mississippi. The pat-down, which some say may have been prompted because the ambassador was wearing a sari, provoked condemnation from India’s government.S.M. Krishna, India’s minister of external affairs, called the pat-down “unacceptable,” according to the BBC, and the Indian government plans to protest her treatment formally, the Indian newspaper The Hindu reported.The TSA, however, said that after looking into what took place, it found that no policies were violated.
“After a review of this passenger’s screening experience, we determined that the TSA officers in Jackson followed proper standard procedure,” agency spokesman Nicholas Kimball said in a statement to AOL News.
Kimball also pointed out that the State Department in 2007 published a special notice from TSA on special security screening procedures for diplomats. The notice says that if diplomats are selected for secondary screening, they should present their credentials and they will be subject to “special procedures.”The notice doesn’t specify what those procedures are, however.
According to published reports, Shankar presented her diplomatic credentials to TSA officials, though it’s unclear if she was subject to special screening procedures, as stated in the memo. TSA did not respond to follow-up questions about the procedures used.
A spokesman for the Indian Embassy did not return a call from AOL News requesting comment.
The State Department has so far deferred to the TSA on the issue.”The fact that you’re a diplomat does not necessarily mean that you are not subject to basic screening as is any other passenger on any particular flight,” spokesman P.J. Crowley said at a press briefing Thursday.
Asked about the incident on Thursday at a press briefing, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the issue had not been raised to her by Indian government officials, but the incident would be reviewed. “We obviously are concerned about it,” she said.
The incident appeared to have been sparked by TSA policies in place since 2007, which mandate special screening for so-called “bulky” clothing. Though passengers may decline to remove such clothing for religious or medical reasons, they may then be subject to secondary screening.”Passengers may request that a pat-down be conducted in private,” Kimball said.
Underwear Invention Protects Privacy at Airport.
DENVER (Nov. 21) — It’s a special kind of underwear - with a strategically placed fig leaf design - and a Colorado man says it’ll get you through the airport screeners with your dignity intact.
Jeff Buske says his invention uses a powdered metal that protects people’s privacy when undergoing medical or security screenings.Buske of Las Vegas, Nev.-Rocky Flats Gear says the underwear’s inserts are thin and conform to the body’s contours, making it difficult to hide anything beneath them. The mix of tungsten and other metals do not set off metal detectors.
The men’s design has the fig leaf, while the one for women comes in the shape of clasped hands.
It’s unclear whether it would lead to an automatic, more intrusive pat down by federal Transportation Security Administration officials.