Egypt flight hijacking raises airport security concerns

by | Mar 29, 2016 | International, News

Passengers evacuate a hijacked EgyptAir Airbus 320 plane at Larnaca airport, Cyprus, March 29, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE

Katie Jones

Egypt’s airport security was under scrutiny Tuesday after an EgyptAir plane was forced to land in Cyprus, Lanarca, when a man told the plane he was wearing a suicide explosive belt.

The aircraft left Alexandria and was scheduled to land in Cairo.

There were 81 people on board during the highjacking. Once the plane landed, the passengers and crew exited physically unharmed and the man was arrested after giving himself up.

The motive behind the incident is still in question but authorities said the explosive device was fake.

“That fact that they’ve had two such incidents in the last six months should make one question if they have adequate security measures in place” – Kenneth Gray

The highjacking is not said to be related to any terrorist acts as a senior Cypriot official said he was psychologically unstable.

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said the man appeared to have a personal agenda.

It was also released that the man wanted to contact his ex-wife and demanded to see her. She lives in Larnaca.

Earlier, reports also stated that he was demanding the release of female prisoners in Egypt.

Tuesday’s security incident comes after the crash of Metrojet Flight 9268  on Oct. 31 in Egypt’s Sinai desert. The aircraft went down by a homemade bomb killing all 224 people on board.

Egyptian authorities confirmed the plane was destroyed by terrorists.

Kenneth Gray, Coordinator of the National Security Studies Program at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, said there is concern considering that the incidents are six months apart.

“That fact that they’ve had two such incidents in the last six months should make one question if they have adequate security measures in place,” said Gray who specializes in counterterrorism and crisis management.

How the incident will be treated going forward is not overly clear, experts told Humber News.

Kanishkan Sathasivam, a professor from Salem State University in Massasschusetts, says there are already a lot of questions about these kinds of issues in Egypt because of the current government crackdown on Islamic militants.

Sathasivam, who specializes in national security and aviation, told Humber News Egyptian security officials will have two different groups dealing with this issue – international and domestic audiences.

“For the international audience, they constantly have to provide reassurance that Egypt is a safe place to travel to,” said Sathasivam.

“They are going to want foreign business people coming into Egypt and they’re going to want tourists coming into Egypt,” he said.

“This is extremely important to the government because the government is struggling with economic hardships in that country,” said Sathasivam

“They can’t afford to alienate the international business community, tourists or even friendly foreign governments who provide them with aid.”