Law enforcement officials in France are investigating the backgrounds of some Paris airport employees and public transport operators suspected of being radicalized Islamists. A French counterterrorism source said investigators have known about some employee’s ties to radical Islamic extremist groups for up to two year.
On Tuesday, CNN reported that a French counterterrorism source said French investigators have been monitoring some employees for “a couple of years” and includes the “national railway service SNCF, Paris public transport company RATP and airports such as Roissy Charles de Gaulle and Orly.” Samy Amimour, 28, one of the three terrorists responsible for the November 13 attack at the Bataclan theater in Paris had been a bus driver for RATP until October 2012.
After the Paris attacks French airport police conducted searches at several companies whose staff work at the airport —including some with access to the tarmac and aircraft, according to Christophe Blondel, Deputy to the Prefect of Airport Police. Businesses subjected to searches at Charles de Gaulle Airport included Air France Cargo, Servair and FedEx Corp.
After confirmation that Islamic State or ISIS, bombed Russia’s Kogalymavia Airlines Flight on October 31, U.S. lawmakers and aviation officials once again raised questions about security protocol at American airports–where dozens of current airport employees remain under scrutiny because of possible ties to or sympathies with extremist groups.
In April, United States Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Jeh Johnson announced enhancements to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security protocol. Secretary Johnson said the added security measures would greatly reduce “the potential insider threat” posed by aviation employees by requiring real-time, recurring criminal background checks for aviation workers, including airline employees and fingerprint-based background checks every two years for airport employees who hold Secure Identification Display Area badges.
On October 7, the U.S. House of Representatives finally passed the Airport Access Control Security Improvement Act of 2015, after several hearings on Capital Hill addressing serious gaps in America’s air transportation system. The proposed legislation will go to Senate next for consideration. In the meantime, in addition to several recent serious airport breaches, and the bombing of a Russian airliner, the findings of a U. S. Department of Homeland Security Inspector General report released in June revealed the TSA missed seventy three airport workers with links to terrorist organizations.