The Moscow airport terrorist attack yesterday is a tragic reminder of the deep flaws that plague airport security. In this case, it was the inherent nature of airport security that helped make the attack possible.
According to Russia's Novosti news service, eyewitnesses claim that "two terrorists blew themselves up as passengers emerged from the international arrivals zone."
The terrorists didn't hijack planes or smuggle explosives through security in their underwear or hidden in water bottles. Instead, they took advantage of an even greater weakness: The fact that airport security causes passengers to congregate outside the screening areas.
The Russian president, Dmitry Medveded, was even quoted blaming airport security officials for "clear security breaches."
Think about your last trip to the airport. Where were the most people gathered? Within the terminals or near the departure/arrival areas? When terrorists, like the ones in Moscow, strike at an airport's "unsecured" areas, their impact can be even greater than what they might accomplish beyond the security checkpoint. Keep in mind that this area--a chaotic mix of passengers, family members, children, cabbies, airport employees and more--usually has no security measures in place that might detect chemicals or metallic objects.
Remember, in the days before 9-11, when family and friends could meet air passengers at the gate? Now, only ticketed passengers can access the areas beyond the security checkpoint, which, conversely, leaves sizeable areas of an airport unsecured.
As In Hard Focus has maintained, and countless tests and personal accounts have shown, airport security checkpoints do not work. And sadly, they're creating even more of a security risk by providing terrorists with an easy target.