After the Istanbul attack at Ataturk Airport on Tuesday evening Turkey time, airport security has been increased worldwide. People everywhere are wondering if it is safe to fly anywhere anymore.
Same Song, Different Chorus
Increasing security at airports is not a new practice. In January 2015, the Department of Homeland Security increased security at U.S. airports as a result of AQAP’s (al Quaeda’s wing in Yemen) release of a how-to recipe for a “hidden bomb” in their handy-dandy magazine called “Inspire.” AQAP was also calling for more lone wolf attacks in the West, which practice has only grown by every terrorist group, especially Daesh (widely known as ISIS).
In November 2015, airport security was increased due to the Paris attacks when the BBC reported “three co-ordinated teams” hit multiple spots using guns and suicide bombs, killing 130 and wounding hundreds.
Airports in the U.S. and around the world have increased security again in the last two days since the attack in Istanbul, when three terrorists believed to be from Daesh blew themselves up at different places inside the airport, killing over 40 and injuring hundreds.
This comes after security had already been increased due to the Brussels attacks just weeks before, when the New York Times reported three suicide bombers set off explosions, killing more than 30 people and injuring hundreds more.
And that is only a few of the more than 60 attacks that have occurred in the last year.
That was Then, This is Now
“Aviophobia” is one term for the fear of flying. Another term for this fear is “Pteromerhanophobia,” which is rather scary itself.
However—not to be melodramatic—with the state of air travel and terrorist attacks being what they are today, chamomile tea or even a shot of whiskey before boarding an airplane might calm your nerves and phobias, but they won’t protect you from a bomb attack.
Twenty years ago, attention to higher safety standards in airports was finally being paid on a federal level. Especially after 9/11, things began to get better including training of airport screeners, background checks, and additional security barring access to airport “infrastructure.”
Responsibility for security relating to airports, airplanes, and personnel moved to the TSA in 2001. In response to the 9/11 attacks, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) was created under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In connection with the enhanced security measures they implement and are responsible for, small nuisances have increased such as the time it takes to get through security screening and travelers feeling as if some security measures are too “invasive.”
Also, taking ginormous bottles of shampoo or conditioner or body lotion with you on the plane is a thing of the past; now everything has to be in 3.4-ounce or less containers (or pack them in your checked baggage). You might as well wear flip-flops or shoes that are easy to get out of because those are checked separately, as well. Being able to sit with your loved one until their plane takes off is also no longer an option. If you don’t have a ticket for a flight, you can’t even get through Security.
But to pick somebody up? You can just walk inside the door and wait in the baggage claim area. Why airports have not increased security for pick-up procedures is baffling; couldn’t somebody walk in from outside, leave an incendiary device of some kind in the bathroom or near baggage pick-up, and walk right out again?
That means you might be safe to fly, but not to pick somebody up at the airport.
Is it Safe to Fly?
The raw truth is if somebody evil wants to do something evil, they will find a way to make it happen. Just like the raw fact that guns do not commit atrocities on their own because they are inanimate objects—it takes a person with an evil intent behind the trigger (which is another discussion altogether)—it takes a person or group with evil intentions to coordinate a terrorist attack on innocent victims.
Terrorists have morphed, using social media to expand calls for lone wolf attacks, especially but not only in the West, and they use their social media platforms and worldwide reach to “train” wannabes how to perform terrorist activities and connect with others. It’s like support groups for evildoers. The problem that has grown immensely with these expert social media campaigns is that terrorists can attack anywhere now, not just within their immediate reach.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stressed this point: “The bombs that exploded in Istanbul today could have gone off at any airport in any city around the world,” he said. “Make no mistake: For terrorist organizations, there is no difference between Istanbul and London, Ankara and Berlin, Izmir and Chicago or Antalya and Rome.”
But, fear cannot rule our lives. If we worried about everything that could possibly go wrong, we might never leave our homes. We must remember airport security has increased, policies have changed, and we could worry if it’s safe to fly but we could also worry about what eating GMO corn will do to our bodies. What is in our control is to be as aware and alert as possible.
[Photo by Defne Karadeniz/Getty Images]