By Josh Jacobs
Details continue to emerge from a story that broke at the end of June concerning a Nigerian American who bypassed three separate layers of airport security in New York and successfully flew to Los Angeles. It wasn’t until mid-flight that the suspect was asked to present his boarding pass and ID. After detaining Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi once on the ground authorities discovered 15 expired boarding passes, none of which matched Noibi’s name.
Whether we discover what Noibi’s intentions really were, the underlying problem must not be overlooked. The countless stories of airport closures because of security breaches, airport employees involved in drug smuggling and illegal immigrates that are either stowaways or that circumvent past security aren’t strangers to making first page headlines.
Airports aren’t the only area of concern. Not too long ago back in May an Egyptian born stowaway was found by law enforcement in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The disturbing part came when authorities later discovered the man was denied a visa for having fought against US forces in the Second Battle of Fallujah.
In seems as though the Transportation Security Administration has fallen on some pretty tough times. It’s not only the security breaches that have critics firing from all angles in anger. On the opposite side of the spectrum the TSA has been criticized for excessive searches on the general public as well. So now the question becomes where does government draw a line in the sand? Or is there a line to draw? Must the public give up some comfort when traveling for the overall safety and security of the nation?
Maybe the most damning stories to have gone viral and which raised eyebrows across the country broke in 2001. In a memo made public by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., The Department of Homeland Security expressed concern about illegal immigrants who passed through the Port of Boston and their possible link to al Qaeda. Their mode of transportation was onboard LNG tankers delivering liquefied natural gas. It was concluded by the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy that a lack of communication between federal agencies and local officials only contributed to the confusion of handling the situation.
While the FBI later denied any connection between these Algerian stowaways and terror cells, former White House adviser Richard A. Clarke’s book “Against All Enemies” was released before authorities acknowledged that the incident even took place. It was within this book that the public was made aware of the LNG tanker story.
Having come full circle the most recent news involving Olajide Oluwaseun Noibi and his cross country flight continues to emphasize the greater need of communication and teamwork between all agencies, whether state or federal. Airlines and shipping companies are just two more entities that possible terrorists can and do exploit. Noibi’s intentions might not be known but the Nigerian American can be used for greater education and policy change in a greater effort to prevent future breaches in security.