Tuesday, 5 January 2010

An Explosive Security Test

Airport security has had one of its regular revivals as a news topic since the attempted bombing in the US, and there's always questions of liberty versus security. But a airport security has reared its head in Europe is far stranger circumstances today, when it emerged that explosives were smuggled into Ireland after a security test by Slovakian authorities went wrong.

It seems that a security test was run, where explosives would be smuggled past airport security in Bratislava airport to see if they'd be spotted (much like the security test at public buildings in the US a few months ago). However, instead of using a civil servant or someone trained in the security sector, the explosives were simply planted on an unsupecting traveller.

Airport security missed the explosives, and the man flew on to Dublin, and went home, without knowing he was carrying illegal material. He didn't notice what had been planted in his luggage, and it wasn't discovered until Bratislava informed the Irish Gardaí (police) - three days later.

It just seems amazing that Bratislava could put someone who was essentially an unsuspecting passer-by through something like that, and that it took 3 days to contact Irish authorities!

This comes as yesterday the Spanish rotating presidency of the Council pushed for greater intelligence sharing to combat terrorism. Although it wasn't military intelligence in this case, information sharing between member states' authorities are meant to be made easier by the EU and the Lisbon Treaty - though it's not clear what the source of any communications problems were at this point.


  1. Surely the lessons to draw from each - and possibly all - of the intelligence failures since 9/11 are complex. But explainable.

    First, I feel there seems to be too much reliance on technological means of data gathering (eg satellites, etc) and not enough on people on the ground.

    Second, there is too much reliance at airports on technological detection, rather than on behavioural techniques.

    Third, politicians' views/expectations appear to press heavily on the senior, or "spymaster" leaders of the intelligence agencies/ leading to "giving the boss what he wants to see", rather than an unbiased report.

    The question is not so much about more sharing of information within/by the EU member states, but one of how do you encourage individual member states to free their intelligence services from their bureaucratic yoke: and to accept views that may not accord with their leaders' views/expectations.

  2. This was a calculated measure by the Slovakian SS because Ireland is a neutral country with a tiny military and the risk was much lower then using the same experiment on a US or UK bound flight.