(NEW YORK) — Airports across the country are seeing an increased security presence inside and outside their terminals as Istanbul reels from an attack that left at least 41 people dead and 239 others injured.
According to Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, a trio of armed attackers opened fire last night before blowing themselves up at Turkey’s biggest airport, where travelers are screened before even entering the terminal.
The procedures at Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport are similar to those across the Middle East, but unlike those in the United States.
Airports in New York, Miami, Atlanta and San Francisco told ABC News they will have an increased police presence in the wake of the attack, but at no American airport will you find screening prior to the terminal.
Aviation security in the United States has focused its efforts on the security checkpoints after the ticket counters, where the Transportation Security Administration screens all passengers and luggage just prior to the secure area.
Local law enforcement in the United States takes the lead on any security before these checkpoints, but does not screen travelers as they arrive at the airport.
Someone departing a major airport in the Middle East, however, would likely see enhanced safety efforts prior to their entry to the terminal.
Security for your flight out of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport begins before you even leave for the airport.
When someone purchases a ticket out of Israel’s flagship airport, their name is run through a database. Their identity is vetted before they ever arrive for their flight.
When one does leave for Ben Gurion, security checkpoints may be on the roadway approaching the airport. At these locations, vehicles are checked for explosives and behavioral detection officers may ask the occupants questions, looking for any number of signs indicating nefarious intentions.
When approaching one of these major Middle Eastern terminals, more behavioral detection officers are looking for any physical or behavioral signs inconsistent with the regular traveling process.
Any traveler may show signs of nervousness, but how are they walking? Checking if one’s pace or gait is consistent with carrying an awkward or heavy hidden object.
Are they dressed for the weather? A person wearing a long coat on a hot day in the Middle East is likely to be asked a few questions.
These officers are carefully watching passengers eye movements or arm placement. Someone carrying something hidden on around their waist may subconsciously place their arm there.
These are just a few examples of the many things security officers at airports not only in the Middle East, but around the world are looking for, hoping to prevent the next devastating attack.
The focus in the United States will now be on increasing highly-visible security personnel on the perimeter of the terminals, according to John Cohen, a former acting under-secretary at the Department of Homeland Security and now an ABC News consultant.
“These current events demonstrate that we have to look at the threat environment more broadly to include parts of the airport prior to security checkpoint,” Cohen said. “All of these instances show that we need to look at how we can expand security to areas that include entry and exit of the airports.”
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