INVESTIGATORS: Airport workers skip security when flying

report by Tom Lyden

- Some airport workers are avoiding the long security lines when they go on vacation by using their security badges, but that has some worried about the security of all passengers. 

The Fox 9 Investigators obtained video surveillance of a man caught on cameras running through the airport. He was off duty and late for his flight to Las Vegas. He used his security badge and airport privileges to skip passenger screening. A fellow airport employee, aware of what he did, stopped him at the gate before he boarded the plane.

According to Airport Police, the man left his car in an employee parking lot and took the employee bus to the terminal. He then went through an employee entrance where all he had to do was swipe his badge, his bags were never searched.

He had a permit to carry and in a police interview casually mentioned he had left his loaded gun in the trunk of his car.  

Police in interrogation video: "You could easily have not left that gun in that vehicle and boarded a plane to Vegas with a gun." 

Airport worker: "I'm well aware.. I would not have done that."

The man at MSP was a ramp agent, who guides in planes and loads cargo, and had only been working at the airport for 8 months.

Police in interrogation video:  I'm not saying you were attempting to hijack a plane, not saying you were trying to blow a plane up.  I'm saying you had the intent to bypass security.

SECURITY EXPERT

Ken Kasprisin is the former head of TSA nationally and at MSP. He said thousands of airport workers, who slip into the airport, with only random checks, are probably the single greatest threat to aviation security.

There are 11,200 workers at MSP who carry what's known as a SIDA badge granting them various levels of security clearance, essentially the keys to the airport. 

"There are numerous access points around the airport," said Kasprisin. "Why risk going through several levels of security at the checkpoint, when it's very easy, one, to get hired, get a badge, to get a SIDA badge and to avoid all that and to secrete those prohibited items on an aircraft."

In Somalia, three weeks ago, a suicide bomber was blown out of a jet, leaving a gaping hole in the fuselage. Surveillance video at the Mogadishu airport caught an airport employee handing him a suspected bomb, disguised as a laptop.

Last October in Egypt a Russian jet was brought down over the Sinai and ISIS took credit, showing off a homemade soda can bomb.  Investigators believe it may have been planted by a ramp agent working at the airport.
 
OTHER MSP WORKERS CAUGHT ON CAMERA

The Fox 9 Investigators discovered there were other MSP workers who have taken a shortcut to trouble.

An airport worker, who loads cargo, went on vacation without going through security. Video surveillance showed him waving to his family who were going through the proper procedures. 

There's the case of a 3rd off duty worker who also loads cargo, taking a trip. Video showed him coming through a side door with his security badge visible.
 
On the back of every SIDA badge, there’s a warning against its abuse: It's only for "performance of official job duties," and "using your badge to bypass the screening process to board a flight is grounds for revocation."

FORMER MSP WORKERS WHO FOUGHT FOR TERROR GROUPS

Last year, the Fox 9 Investigators revealed three airport workers who went on to fight for terror groups overseas. 

They included; a coffee shop barista, a cart driver, and an airplane fueler and all three held SIDA badges. Two became suicide bombers.

Only recently did Homeland Security discover 73 airport workers in the US with security clearance, who were also in a federal data base of possible terrorists. 

A senior TSA manager at MSP, Becky Roering, turned into a whistleblower when she discovered TSA didn't have access to that data base.

"Some of these SIDA badge employees who worked at MSP airport later traveled to Syria to fight for ISIS," Roering told Congress.

It's complicated by the fact that 25 percent of the workforce at MSP were actually born outside the U.S from 140 countries, primarily Ethiopia and Somalia.

"The problem is if someone is a refugee. Someone doesn't have that background you can check, but how far back can you really go to determine if this person is low risk and deserving of that kind of access," said Kasprisin.

IMPOSSIBLE TO SCREEN EVERY AIRPORT WORKER

"You can't afford it, Cannot do that. I think it comes down to address each of the elements of the risk." said Kasprisin.

And that's what TSA is trying to do, recently announcing a series of changes:  Requiring all airport employees traveling as passengers to be screened, something already required at MSP, random screening of airport workers throughout the day and reducing the number of employee access points.

But the FOX 9 Investigators discovered, most airport workers at MSP still use entrances only requiring them to swipe their SIDA badges.

The exception, for all to see, is in the lobby. There are two new screening lanes for employees, side-by-side with passengers but this configuration can also lead to confusion.

Last December, a passenger slipped through without anyone checking his boarding pass or ID, agents apparently assumed he was an airport worker.

"There are different standards at each checkpoint. Checkpoint 3, you have a number of employees that come through on a routine basis that don't have boarding passes but do have SIDA badge. said Kasprisin,  So it's easy for the employees to get confused, are you a passenger or an employee?

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