Whether further investigation of the downed Russian passenger plane in the Sinai desert proves that terrorists did NOT plant a plastique device inside the Airbus is now irrelevant. European leaders, the Obama administration and airline experts are all backing the theory that ISIL and its affiliates in Egypt were behind the mid-air explosion that left 244 Russians dead. As many have said, this alleged attack is a game changer.
Now the attention turns to international travel safety and the ability of government security agencies to protect passengers from terrorists attacks. If past performance is any guide our airport security agency, the TSA, does not foster a great deal of confidence. Time after time TSA agents were shown to be negligent in spotting dangerous items that were part of regular test operations conducted by undercover officials of the agency. Yes, TSA agents were able to find most hidden devices in carry-on bags on in luggage, but a failure rate of around 5% is certainly not reassuring to passengers in this new age of terrorism.
We may be approaching a time when carry-on bags are forbidden, passengers are patted down with regularity and random individual screenings are the norm. And you thought taking off your shoes was a pain – the new regimen will certainly make the traveling experience a real chore.
But if indeed the downing of the Russian Airbus was caused by a terrorist bomb, major changes in security will need to be put in place ASAP. It is not enough to fly around the Sinai Peninsula, nations will have to put in place Israeli-style procedures that incorporate layers and layers of security that involve not just high-tech machinery but diligent and sometimes aggressive security agents at various stops along the way to boarding a plane.
Some will say that the only way to guarantee security is to crush ISIL with a major international military force. That decision may be implemented sooner than most people think, especially if these attacks on airlines continue. But for the moment security changes to ward off ISIL inspired attacks by the TSA must begin ASAP.