By now, I am sure you heard the news of the EgyptAir hijacking that took place earlier today. Thankfully, all hostages are now safe and the hijacker is in custody. I was driving when I received the alert and, like most people that heard it early, my thoughts jumped to it being a terrorist event.
A Disturbing Aspect Of Today’s Hijacking
In the end, it turned out not to have ties to terrorist organizations but was rather an individual acting alone. Here is part of the account as written by ABC News:
A hijacker who took dozens of hostages aboard a commercial jet over what appeared to be a “personal” matter involving a woman was arrested after an hours-long standoff Tuesday, authorities said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Cyprus confirmed around 7:45 a.m. ET that all of the passengers and crew had been safely freed.
The drama unfolded aboard EgyptAir Flight MS181, which was on a domestic flight en route from Alexandria to Cairo.
A hijacker who claimed to have an explosive belt ordered the plane to diverted to either Turkey or Cyprus, according to officials. The belt was later deemed a fake.
I will say that it is a huge relief that everyone is safe and I am very thankful that the authorities acted in the professional manner that they did.
Here is the part that is disturbing to me about today’s hijacking
This was a single individual that some have said was emotionally unstable. He did not have an explosive (as he claimed to have) yet he was still able to have the plane diverted to one of his two location choices (landing in Cyprus).
Yes, I understand there are protocols in place to handle situations like this but it certainly is a disturbing thought that a single individual that may have been emotionally unstable could just hijack an entire aircraft with dozens of people in it and have it land at the location of his choosing as the 7+ hour negotiation took place. Egypt has defended their security measures in the wake of the explosion that occurred on the Russian airliner that took off from an Egyptian airport last year. Having been in Cairo twice in the last several months, I can tell you that, in my experience, security was handled in a way like it is at so many other airports around the world and the US. That is to say that it did not seem lax at all to me.
So, why was there no confidence in their security checks and protocols? Or was the reaction part of their typical protocols in response to something like this? I understand it is better to be safe than sorry. I also know it is possible to have certain bomb-type materials escape detection at times but it just seems crazy to me that one untrained individual was able to control the flight of an aircraft because of a false claim that he made about a bomb. What would happen with trained individuals? Does this mean that terrorists do not even need to actually have a bomb but can simply claim to have a bomb to take over an airplane? What if, instead of Cyprus, the individual wanted to take the plane to Syria – would that have been allowed?
I know there are experts in security and intelligence that figure out scenarios far beyond my comprehension and they likely have even secret protocols for how to handle incidents like this as well as adjusting along the way. I am just saying, from a regular traveler’s point of view, it was a disturbing thing today to see how easy it was for a single person to make a false bomb claim and hijack an aircraft. Certainly makes the security protocols and questioning of El Al be understood, yes?
Will this stop me from flying? Absolutely not. I am not afraid to fly but just sounding out what today’s events pointed out to me.
What do you think about what happened today?