Two of the bombs that exploded in Brussels on Tuesday, part of a terrorist attack that killed at least 31 people and left more than 100 injured, were detonated in a place where the illusion of security masks a growing vulnerability: the airport departure terminal where fliers check in and drop off bags.
“I was surprised they didn’t do it before,” says Rafi Sela, founder of the global security firm AR Challenges. “You can kill 500 people just by blowing yourself up in a security line.”
After the Sept. 11 attacks, airports in the U.S. and Europe spent billions beefing up security for ticketed passengers to prevent hijackers or bombers from potentially bringing down planes or turning them into missiles. But the parts of airports flyers pass through before reaching security checkpoints—baggage claim, check-in kiosks, parking lots, and drop-off areas—are open to the general public and can have as little security as an ordinary mall.
“You really don’t have much of a presence in terms of law enforcement,” says Michael Chertoff, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and co-founder of risk management firm Chertoff Group. Read more