Fri, 02 May 2003

Airport improves security system

Multa Fidrus and Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Tangerang/Jakarta

Following Sunday's bomb blast at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport that left 11 people injured, the airport management claims it is working to improve all systems related to the airport security.

Criticism of airport security is mounting, after management and police revealed that at least six security cameras failed to record who planted the bag containing the bomb, and that security did not meet international standards.

The police investigation seems to have bogged down, with fingers being pointed at the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), even though there is no apparent evidence this is the case.

Syahrial Syam, spokesman of airport management company PT Angkasa Pura II, told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that the company had allowed police access to all areas of the airport.

Police had earlier complained that they had failed to protect the airport because they could not enter restricted areas. These comments were not explained.

"We have also replaced many old security officers with younger officers," airport management general affairs manager Wasfan said.

Wasfan said it would also increase the number of security cameras from the existing 400 that were installed in 1985, though he did not provide figures.

The cameras would also be relocated to more strategic positions after it was revealed that many were blocked by retail or food outlets. Police say this has hindered the investigation.

Syahrial said it had also established a new crisis center at terminal F, where the bomb exploded. The center would function as a coordination point for airport administrators, police, customs officers, immigration officers and quarantine officers. The old crisis center, located at the airport fire office, would be used for hijacking incidents.

"We have also started conducting random checks on cars that park at the airport."

Wasfan told the Post that it would also limit entry access to the airport from Tangerang municipality, starting this month.

"The back entry access will only open for airport employees and aircraft passengers who can show their flight tickets."

He said that all concessionaires in the airport lobby would be redesigned so they faced public areas.

Airport management has now ordered a bomb container to store any device or suspected device found at the airport. In addition, they have also told all ground handling company crews, cleaning service officers and concessionaire staff to monitor unclaimed bags and report suspicious activity.

Both Syahrial and Wasfan said that airplane passengers and flights frequency was now at half the level recorded prior to the deadly terrorist attacks in Bali last year.

In response management would lower landing, parking and docking fees by as much as 25 percent for each plane serving international routes.

The new fees, effective May, for a Boeing 747-200 aircraft would be US$193 for landing, $160 for parking and $175 for docking using air bridges.

However, it was business as usual at the terminal on Thursday, despite the tightened security.

Several police officers with automatic weapons were seen on guard.

Heru Wahyono, a security officer, told the Post that there were many hidden cameras in the domestic terminal, though none could be seen in certain areas.

"There are many cameras here, but I can't show you. We are also being watched. That's why the management knows if security officers receive money from cars that drop off passengers," he said.

Meanwhile, National Police headquarters said Thursday that the airport bomb contained a small amount of TNT (trinitrotoluene). They said they believed that GAM was behind the attack.

Comr. Gen. Erwin Mappaseng, Indonesia's detective chief, said the terrorists used a little TNT to fool the police into thinking the Indonesian Military (TNI) were behind the attack.

Only the military has official access to TNT.

However, speculation remains that the TNI may have played a role in the attacks.

Erwin said the airport bombing was linked to a recent attack outside the United Nations building in central Jakarta and a blast in Medan, North Sumatra. No injuries were reported in the attacks.

GAM has taken responsibility for the Medan attack, but rubbished claims it was involved in the Jakarta terrorist incidents.

Police earlier said the airport bomb consisted of, among other things, potassium chlorate and "a kind of black powder" placed in a pipe.

"The bombing in Medan involved GAM, our analysis points to similarities in composition (of the airport bomb) although the bomb materials are not exactly the same," Erwin said.