Israeli experts perform LAX security review

Nov. 10, 2008
Security team offers L.A. airport insights on dealing with terrorist threats

A team of Israeli airport security experts on Friday wrapped up a weeklong review of Los Angeles International Airport, providing a level of insight and expertise that city officials hope to build on.

The three experts analyzed LAX's day-to-day safety measures and offered advice on how to respond to threats of terrorism at the world's fifth-busiest airport.

The visitors oversee security at Ben-Gurion International Airport, a longtime terrorist target that's also considered to be one of the world's most secure airports.

"Terrorism has no boundaries and no limits," Israeli Consul General Jacob Dayan said during a news conference at LAX. "In the fight against terrorism, we have to cooperate and we gladly share what Israel has accumulated with a lot of blood, tears and sweat."

The same three airport security experts visited LAX two years ago to examine the airport's perimeter, tarmacs, terminals and parking structures. They later submitted a series of recommendations that were not released to the public, but noted that LAX has made "significant progress" since 2006.

The latest visit was arranged as part of a deal struck last June during Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's trip to Israel.

The Israeli experts will be paid $1,000 a day and reimbursed for their airfare, hotel and out-of-pocket expenses during their stay in Los Angeles, under the terms of an agreement between LAX and Ben- Gurion airport officials.

"We're getting the best advice from the best of the best," City Councilman Jack Weiss said. "They've seen significant progress in what LAX is doing and what LAX is planning to do, so this is a relationship that has shown results and will continue to show results in years to come."

A series of reports released in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks had cited possible vulnerabilities in the perimeter fencing and crowds gathering outside airport terminals at LAX.

Over the past two years, airport officials have strengthened LAX's perimeter fence, installed giant concrete flower pots in front of several terminals and placed a series of barricades at "strategic locations." Additionally, airport police officers have bulked up their presence and increased the frequency of vehicle searches.

"We want tourists to come to LAX, and we know that we have to have the image that we have a very safe and secure airport, or people will find another place to go," said City Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

The visit came the same day that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's inspector general released a 58-page report that uncovered a series of security lapses at LAX.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard operations at LAX did not fully comply with security policies outlined by the Department of Homeland Security, according to the audit.

Details were vague because several portions were redacted from the report.

"The information technology security controls implemented at this site have deficiencies that, if exploited, could result in the loss of confidentiality, integrity and availability of their information technology systems," the report stated.

Airport officials did not return a phone call seeking comment.