Airport Security and its Misadventures

A tragi-comedy of greek proportions seems to have played out at Bratislava airport this Wednesday:

In what no doubt seemed like a good idea at the time, Slovak officials decided to test airport security in Slovakia on Saturday by concealing plastic explosives in eight suitcases and waiting to see what happened next.

Here’s what happened next: airport security workers intercepted seven of the suitcases but failed to detect 96 grams of the plastic explosive RDX loaded into one bag, which belonged to a Slovak electrician who lives in Ireland and had no idea his luggage had been tampered with. The man boarded his flight to Dublin, retrieved his bag and went home to his apartment.

The man then unpacked but, The Irish Times reports, “the explosives had been concealed so well that he did not find them.”

Three days later, on Tuesday, it apparently occurred to someone in Slovakia that the fact that one of the explosive-packed bags had gone missing was a problem and Slovakian airport authorities contacted their counterparts in Dublin to ask for help.

On Tuesday morning, the Irish Army’s bomb squad paid a visit to the apartment of the Slovak electrician in Dublin and secured the explosives. (NYT)

This is hilarious and scary. I’ve flown out of Bratislava on a number of occasions, especially in the heyday of Sky Europe, and anyone who has travelled through there would testify to the sheer chaos of the place. This however touches new heights. While the kaboodle made by the Slovak security is obvious, what scares me most was that someone’s luggage had been TAMPERED with to place the explosives in it! There has to be a law against doing that! And imagine if this guy was flying to a country where security checks are performed on arrival he would probably wake up in a deep dark dungeon not knowing what hit him! Considering the concept of a controlled ‘experiment’ is lost on Slovak security, this may have been a distinct possibility

Flying is a major pain as it is already without having to worry about security agencies planting things in your luggage. And the Christmas bomb plot ( or ‘the Underwear Bomber’ in racier nomenclature) has ensured that flying for young, brown Muslim men, like me, would be an even greater pain. I could do without having to worry about botched security tests where my luggage is the Guinea pig.

(Rant: Racial or Ethnic profiling announced by Obama would would not have stopped Abdulmutallab, the Underwear Bomber (Nigerian), nor Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber (British). Better intelligence almost certainly would have.)

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