After seeing the headlines last week, I feel completely confident I’m in safe hands when I’m cruising at 30,000 feet.
Who wouldn’t feel at ease after learning of the 18-year-old boy from Alberta who was allowed to board his flight from Edmonton to Mexico after security confiscated his pipe bomb? Terrorists, for one, should be especially ecstatic.
New details are now arising in the case of the young man who had inadvertently packed something extra in his camera bag en route to his family’s vacation last fall.
Evidently, Edmonton International Airport security may need a refresher course on what the airport’s stance is on passengers who bring explosives with them.
I can only imagine what the conversation with the teen sounded like:
“Sorry, sir, but we don’t allow explosive devices on our airline.”
“Oh, sorry, man. My bad. You guys can hang onto that if you want.”
“No problem, sir. Have a nice flight.”
I’m not entirely sure how someone forgets they have a pipe bomb in their bag before they get through airport security, but that’s apparently what happened.
Personally, I’m so worried about having problems getting through security that I make sure I take my jackknife out of my pocket before I even leave the house and search my purse thoroughly for hand sanitizer, nail clippers or any other seemingly harmless items that would be frowned upon.
There’s something wrong with the system if security personnel are prepared to frisk you for having a nail file in your handbag, but don’t ask a whole lot of questions about a pipe bomb in a camera bag.
The teen’s story that he built the pipe bomb with a friend to blow up a shed just for kicks is believable (disturbing, crazy and stupidly dangerous, but believable, since we are talking about teenagers). And the RCMP appeared to have acted accordingly by immediately arresting the young man when he returned to Canada a week later. Transport Canada and Mexican airport officials were notified of the situation, and the teen was arrested by RCMP, a SWAT team, bomb squad and an explosives-sniffing dog.
But the most concerning aspect of the whole ordeal is that airport security didn’t do their jobs properly. According to reports, it took them four whole days to realize they had in fact obtained a pipe bomb with a fuse attached to it.
Four days. It would have only taken a split second for that same bomb to be used on a plane had it been in the wrong hands.
Apparently security screeners initially didn’t even recognize it as a pipe bomb and had tried to return it to the young man, who then told them he didn’t want it.
That’s not concerning at all. If the device could make it past multiple security personnel without arousing suspicion, maybe it’s time to have a little sit down with airport security and give a lesson using flash cards to show the difference between your standard camera equipment and a bomb.
The teen pleaded guilty to possession of an explosive device and was given a one year suspended sentence, a $100 fine and was ordered to make a $500 donation to a burn unit.
But I wonder if we would be hearing a very different story had the owner of the pipe bomb not been Caucasian. Would a young immigrant face the same penalty had they been caught in the same situation?