A country’s economic and security prosperity highly relies on the aviation system that is operating efficiently. The existence of weak security poses a threat to aircraft safety and those that are boarding it. The hostile nation-states, criminals and terrorists have been viewing the aviation sector as a target for exploitation and attack. Successful airport attacks inflict grave economic damage, mass casualties and negatively affect the airline transportation system. The air transport sector should adopt appropriate ways of managing different incidents and threats. Intelligence and Threat Assessment play a significant role in mitigating numerous risks in the aviation industry. Intelligence information in the various countries has been helpful in preventing probable civil aviation terrorist attacks.
Purpose of Threat Assessment and Intelligence in Mitigating Risks
Civil aviation unlike other sectors like the defense (military) aviation has been at the centre of the aviation security concerns due to various reasons. First, it has a high-value asset such as wealth, goods, property and human capital which makes it more attractive to the terrorists and criminals. The significant concentration of the high-value asset has been seen to attract crime. For example in the 70’s there were aircraft hijacks with a sole aim of collecting ransom. According to McCamey (2001), availing intelligence information can alleviate the aviation security attacks and achieve socio-political or economic motivation.
Numerous threats are present in the airline sector. A threat is any action which has the potential of inflicting harm in the form of injury, death, disclosure, destruction, denial of services and interruption of operation. Threat assessment analyses the threat level against the critical assets through an evaluation of the possible tactics and means of the individuals carrying them out. The officers carrying out threats assessment need to have information on the present national threats and the particular risks that are present to the airport and their airline (Robert, 2008).
The first step in threat assessment is the air carriers identifying the risks and threats that their organization can face. Secondly, they should evaluate the threats’ nature and the likelihood that it can put their organization at risk. Risk management will help them in transparently and consistently addressing the risks so as to protect their assets, staff, and brand and to prioritize the allocation of resources. The airline will have an opportunity of measuring security performance against the existing measures in the airport security programs. The state should always take part in giving assistance in the process of threat assessment.
The examples of the threats include armed hijacking, barricade or hostage situation in the passenger terminal; release of radiological, biological or chemical agents in the passenger terminals; hiding of nuclear materials or dirty bomb in the freight cargo, the detonation of improvised explosives devices and sabotage of aircraft. Other possible threats include insider sabotage; cyber-attacks; aircraft hijacking and infrastructure sabotage. The aviation security team has a core responsibility of ensuring there is continuous threat assessment so as to minimize the risks (McCamey, 2001). The government in collaboration with the airline management should employ an intelligence team to help in detecting the threats in time.
Intelligence is crucial for planning, decision-making, prevention of crime and tactical targeting. The security and agencies of law enforcement rely on the intelligence actions at different points. The airport security cannot operate well without incorporating intelligence into its operations. With the existence of intelligence, the airports can have crucial information, and they will have proper guidelines on how to use the information. The intelligence officials can compare the threats from previous occurrences, and they can propose preventative measures or ways of mitigating the impact of those threats and sudden incidents.
The presence of well-analyzed intelligence is of great importance since it can help in quantifying the risk levels by the airport. The information can assist them in determining various risk-based security mitigation measures in a particular location. The intelligence officers should try to involve the aircraft and airport operators in discussing the security assessment results so that they can increase their awareness of the imminent risks. The coordination will be substantial since the airport staff will be in a better position of implementing the strategies that mitigate the risks.
Well set intelligence helps in detecting, deterring and defeating hostile acts against different air carriers, crews, and passengers. They work with the security officers in protecting the airline crew and passengers against the risk of terrorist and criminal violence. The intelligence officers perform the job of investigating and participating in numerous multi-agency task forces assignments so that they can proactively fight terrorism. Their role in this industry is critical since they promote public confidence in the nation’s aviation system safety.
The intelligence personnel also have a responsibility of collecting, analyzing, evaluating and disseminating domestic and foreign threat and intelligence warning information. Depending on the state, the individuals can dress just like the ordinary travelers so that they can easily blend with the surroundings. They also work with various agencies and citizens who can help them in gathering crucial information about the security of the airline. The information that they collect is vital since it helps the airline to be well prepared to counter any attacks or threats that may arise.
The lack of specialty among the national-level intelligence makes most of the airports to prefer the local intelligence to provide them with information. A majority of the airports even those that are found in the heavily populated areas can access the local security intelligence groups. These groups keep close track of the airline security related activities like the terrorist attacks. These intelligence units have the potential of providing the airports with useful information about the groups and individuals who can or plan to cause significant harm (Price & Forrest, 2013). The airport management team can use the information in tracking these people so that they do no access their facilities.
The airport managers who recognize the importance of the intelligence information and threat assessment establish groups which consist of the federal and local law enforcement agencies. The teams meet at regular intervals to discussion how they can manage different threats that arise in this sector. They also discuss the current operation status, how to improve it and matters of security. By working in groups, there can be a lot of information on how to manage different incidents that emerge. The process is vital, and it improves airport security because many agencies take part.
The airports themselves are capable of leveraging the information collection opportunities. A majority of the airline employees need ID media in accomplishing their duties. The airport security staffs easily get information that relates to every badged employee. The information has been significant in the criminal and counterterrorism investigations. Proper guidance and giving the right incentives to the airport employees can act as sources of information about the suspicious persons and activities. For example, the Orlando International Airport has a close relationship with the existing local police intelligence units. The police-airport partnership has been helpful in identifying and arresting people that they suspect to cause destruction in the airport on several occasions (Hertig, 2003).
Averting potential terrorists and criminal attacks and combating crimes has a basis of understanding the resources and goals of the terrorists and criminal groups. In the aviation industry, the intelligence procedure is mainly a covert collection of the terrorist and criminals or threat information, comprehensive analysis of this information and drawing clear conclusions against the previously known details about the risks(Morrell et al., 2000).. In the case of terrorist attacks, following the steps will enable the security operation to get the attackers foreknowledge and clearly predict their next move.
The intelligence units that work in the airline industry use various data collection methods to get reliable information. The core purpose is using various relevant forms so that they can capture all the details that are necessary. The first method is physical surveillance, and this can be either by the videotapes or in person (Price & Forrest, 2013). The presence of technology is crucial since it promotes the use of electronic surveillance gadgets. The person uses undercover operators and confidential informants in getting the information. The public records and newspaper reports from the internet are important in the intelligence process. By applying all these methods, they can collect information which helps the aviation sector overcome some threats. The team should greatly use the modern technology in getting deeper details however they should be cautious since the terrorist and criminals are always vigilant thus can easily monitor their moves.
Appropriate and up to date information sharing can help the airline and airport operators in planning and handling security issues. Vigilance which is a core element in intelligence and threat assessment helps in reducing and sometimes eliminating security risks (Price & Forrest, 2013). The intelligence personnel strives to deliver easy to understand information so that the airline security team can quickly formulate the next plan of action. However, in most cases, they provide broad and difficult to comprehend information thus it is difficult to employ those proposals in a particular scheduled flight or airport. The complexity makes it difficult to mitigate the risks, and that is why there are terrorist attacks globally.
Intelligence Information Preventing /Stopping Aviation Terrorist Attacks
The intelligence team work towards ensuring that they have information that can be helpful in preventing any terrorist attack. There is an instance where they have given information to the relevant authorities, but the officials did not take the information seriously leading to attacks. However, in many cases, the intelligence has not been able to deliver information in time about a given attack (Morrell et al., 2000). Every state needs to invest a lot of resources in training and ensuring that there is an intelligence team that gives information early in time before an attack occurs. The team should work together with different law enforcement officers and the airport team in detecting and preventing any threat. All the parties should treat any threat with seriousness to avoid any losses and deaths. The attacks claim the lives of many people, and they result in severe damages.
The intelligence information can work in preventing or stopping civil aviation terrorist attacks. For example the TSA through its proper airport coordination it was able to disseminate information airports regarding the movable anti-aircraft missiles threat. Terrorists attempted to bomb a civilian aircraft in 2002 in Mombasa, Kenya (www.airsafe.com, 2003). The US intelligence officials put more effort in educating the security officials and local law enforcement personnel about the weapons to prevent any future attacks. The TSA officials successfully contacted the airports, and they were able to pass on graphics and information outlining the threat. The law enforcement entities and the airports collaboratively worked with the FBI, TSA and other agencies in taking remedial actions thus they were able to prevent the possible terrorists attack.
According to a report by the Government of Canada, (2015), the Canadian intelligence team gave crucial information in 2009, which was able to prevent the bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in December 2009 in the Canadian airspace. The attack was under the guidance of the al-Qaida that were in the Arabian Peninsula who had an aim of destabilizing the Arabian Peninsula. The al-Qaida could organize international attacks that caused severe damages to many countries, but Canada through its well-organized intelligence units was able to detect their move early in time. The team was working closely with the airport officials and the state's law enforcement officers something that should be existing in every state. Proper organization of the intelligence units can quickly detect the threats in the airports, and this can improve the security and economy of a country.
Intelligence, information, and threat assessment are paramount to the maintenance of airport security. The intelligence team gets much of its information from open sources and with the help of technology they can easily gather many security details. Many countries employ local intelligence in the civil aviation industry. There are many threats that they detect and their main responsibility in disseminating the threat information to the relevant persons. The intelligence officers work in collaboration with the airport management team and other employees to work towards a common goal of mitigating all the industry’s risks. Many states support the intelligence teams since the aviation sector generates a lot of revenue to the country and it portrays the state’s image. If there is the presence of clearly gathered intelligence information, there can be an end to the civil aviation terrorist attacks. The information has been helpful in some countries however in others it has not been productive. The intelligence teams should always be on the watch out since air travel is continuing to be vulnerable to the determined terrorists.
Government of Canada. (2015, December 15). Building Resilience against Terrorism: Canada's Counter-terrorism Strategy. Retrieved January 18, 2017, from https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/rslnc-gnst-trrrsm/index-en.aspx
Hertig, C. A. (2003). Counterterrorism and VIP protection. Protection Officer Training Manual, 7, Burlington: Elsevier Science, 203-212.
McCamey, W. P. (2001). Editorial. Journal of Security Administration, 24 (2), 111.
Morrell, P. S., Alamdari, F. E., Lu, C. H.-Y., & College of Aeronautics (Cranfield, Bedfordshire). (2000). Measures of strategic success: The evidence over ten years: a comparative study of 24 airlines from Asia/Pacific, North America and Europe. Cranfield, Bedfordshire, England: Air Transport Group, College of Aeronautics, Cranfield University.
Price, J. C., & Forrest, J. S. (2013). Practical Aviation Security: Predicting and preventing future threats. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Robert, R.R. (2008, June 26). Intelligence and Airport Security. Retrieved January 18, 2017, from https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol50no3/airport_security_5.htm
www.airsafe.com. (2003, December 1). Airport Security Issues. Retrieved January 18, 2017, from http://www.airsafe.com/issues/security.htm.