Bulgarian Airport Security Failed Big in Burgas Bus Bombing - Israeli Ex Officer

Crime | July 25, 2012, Wednesday // 14:06|  views

A CCTV photo released by the Bulgarian Interior Ministry shows the suspected suicide bomber who committed the terrorist attack in Burgas (middle, in blue T-shirt and baseball cap). Photo by Interior Ministry

The security services at Bulgaria's Burgas Airport failed to prevent the July 18 terrorist attack because they were not observing the attitude of the passengers, according to a former security chief of Israel's national airlines El Al.

The July 18 terrorist attack in Bulgaria's Burgas, also known as the Burgas Bus Bombing, killed 5 Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver at the Sarafovo Airport near Burgas.

There are many simple tactics that the Israeli security services have been employing for decades successfully allowing airport security personnel to catch terrorists and to prevent them from entering airports, El Al's former security chief Isaac Yafet told the Bulgarian Darik Radio Wednesday.

In his words, all of that is possible even without technical equipment such as scanners that the terrorists can find ways to evade.

"I will give you a clear response. At El Al, we wouldn't have even allowed such a terrorist attack. We don't wait for something to happen in order to investigate and wonder what we did wrong. I was actually really happy about the statements of the Prime Ministers of Bulgaria and Israel that their relations are very good. This means that Bulgaria can easily turn to El Al to ask for help and advice," said Yafet, who elaborated on why he thinks the Burgas Airport security failed in preventing the July 18 Burgas Bus Bombing.

"Thousands of people from Israel come to Bulgaria on vacation, and the entire world knows that these people are a target for terrorists. Everybody knows how many times the Israeli services got information about upcoming terrorist attacks that they prevented. We also know that even the best intelligence can't catch every single terrorist attempt. That is precisely why the simplest thing that the Burgas Airport security could have done but didn't was to have well-trained agents who should be doing one single thing – walk around the terminal and seek suspicious persons who are also just walking around aimlessly, and behave differently from the other passengers," the former security chief of El Al explained.

He stated that he had seen the CCTV footage showing the Burgas Airport bomber walking around the airport terminal.

"There was nothing normal about his behavior! Yes, there are passengers who are worried at airports but the specific behavior of this particular man is shocking for a trained security agent. He was constantly walking back and forth with two heavy bags, one on his bag, and one on his stomach that he didn't put on the floor even for a second. And he was totally alone! Passengers don't just walk around all the time, they sit, rest, put their bags on the floor.... On top of that, he was at the Arrival terminal but didn't give an impression of waiting for anybody. And he didn't talk to anybody. He just didn't behave normally. The bomber in Bulgaria had a forged ID, right? This is a huge sign. Why didn't the border control people notice that? Today there are scanners that can identify immediately a forged ID. This is a machine but it gives a huge advantage when used by a thinking border officer. Even without the machine – you look at the personal data, the birth date and whether it corresponds with the person's age. If the passport is real, check out the visas. If this person has been across half of the Arab world, including Afghanistan or Pakistan where we know there is training for terrorists, this would be a red light – interrogate these people more thoroughly!" Yafet elaborated.

In his words, if the Burgas Airport had had agents on duty, they would have immediately identified the bomber and gone to talk to him.

"All that I am explaining is called profiling. I am absolutely convinced that if there had been agents of ours on the ground, this person would have been investigated – whether he had a ticket, a passport, who was he waiting for, what he was doing there! These are very simple answers that would be really difficult for him if he wasn't a regular passenger. That is what it is all about," explained further the Israeli specialist.

He added that the bomber should have been asked about where he was staying.

"In this case he was staying in Varna. But Varna also has an international airport. What was he doing at the Burgas Airport?! That's why he should have been asked who he was waiting for – airlines have full passenger lists. This can be checked in a second!" Isaac Yafet said.

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Tags: Burgas, Burgas terrorist attack, bus bombing, bombing, Israel, Israelis, Israeli tourists, terrorism, suicide bomber, Burgas airport, terrorist attacks, El Al, Isaac Yafet


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