Hijacker Working at Heathrow Airport

An airplane hijacker -- a real one, someone with actual airplane hijacking experience -- was working at Heathrow Airport.

Surreal.

EDITED TO ADD (5/19): Or maybe he wasn't working at the airport itself. Anyone have any more information?

Posted on May 19, 2008 at 1:02 PM • 28 Comments

Comments

Timothy ClemansMay 19, 2008 1:22 PM

From the linked article, "He doesn’t work at the airport itself and doesn’t have an airport pass - he works at one of our properties a mile from the airport." So why is Bruce saying he worked at the airport? "was working at Heathrow Airport."

JackMay 19, 2008 1:28 PM

It should be pointed out that of almost all jobs, a cleaner is possibly least likely to attract scrutiny wherever they wander...

Blog popularityMay 19, 2008 1:33 PM

"So why is Bruce saying he worked at the airport?"

Because it makes for a better blog post title. More controversial.

He did the same with his "London's Cameras Don't Reduce Crime" title, of May 7, 2008. A quote from that article:

"According to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), CCTV has not failed. They say it has helped reduce crime in the capital."

JustinMay 19, 2008 1:45 PM

From the article: "He doesn’t work at the airport itself and doesn’t have an airport pass - he works at one of our properties a mile from the airport. He has no more access to the airport than any member of the public."

BadFrogMay 19, 2008 1:50 PM

Don't blame Bruce. He is just repeating what the web article headline says. Quoting Telegraph.co.uk:
"Afghan hijacker 'working at Heathrow'"

Timothy ClemansMay 19, 2008 1:52 PM

>>> Don't blame Bruce.

Yes blame Bruce because either he didn't read the article well enough or he purposely wrote that the hijacker worked at the airport.

BetaMay 19, 2008 1:55 PM

They should not have him working as an office cleaner. They should have him working as a security consultant.

TonyMay 19, 2008 2:14 PM

Bruce, I'm beginning to think you may have jumped the shark and are of scant more use than the mainstream media.

Please say it isn't so.

RonKMay 19, 2008 2:23 PM

@ Blog popularity

About the "London's Cameras Don't Reduce Crime" title: did you actually read _all_ the articles?

The MPS came to the obvious CYA opposite conclusion, because its own head of the Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office (Viido) came out publicly with the true, quantified statistic of 3% use of CCTV camera evidence.

Your conclusion is about as convincing as quoting the criminal claiming to be innocent in order to dismiss an article about his guilt.

UK PLCMay 19, 2008 2:23 PM

Phew! Good job we invested in all those CCTV systems in Blighty - we might have been caught napping by dastardly terrorists otherwise...

I know! Let's build an Ultra-Secure-Uncrackable-Ubreakable-Unrealistic National Identity Card and Database scheme! It'll only cost £20-80b - and no-one will ever break it; hack it; penetrate it; give false positives; have un-forseen flaws; be a grand target for the chinese military hackers and sophisticated organised criminal elements; nor will it fail, infer a false sense of authenticity, or be used for lateral purposes which could be considered not appropriate - unlike other overly abused laws... Then we'll be even MORE secure than ever and ever! And everyone will sleep soundly in this fair and green land. Righty-ho, then...

"UK National Policy 2008: A Tax on Stupidity???"

As an example of How Well The UK Government Understands Security: http://tinyurl.com/5ytqcv

Confidential Government Breifing Notes laid bare...

RonKMay 19, 2008 2:24 PM

@ Blog popularity

About the "London's Cameras Don't Reduce Crime" title: did you actually read _all_ the articles?

The MPS came to the obvious CYA opposite conclusion, because its own head of the Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office (Viido) came out publicly with the true, quantified statistic of 3% use of CCTV camera evidence.

Your conclusion is about as convincing as quoting the criminal claiming to be innocent in order to dismiss an article about his guilt.

DavidMay 19, 2008 2:49 PM

FWIW I like Beta's idea.

But why is he working as a cleaner, if they are all -- as they say -- skilled and educated? Been in the UK since 2000, has clearly learned enough English for day-to-day life. Organized girls' schools in Afghanistan, surely SOMETHING a little more symbolic-analyst-y should have opened up by now?

Or is it possible that someone who'd hijack a plane might also be a bit disingenuous...?

Anonymous CowardMay 19, 2008 3:06 PM

Seems like a non-story... Hijacking an airliner seems like a pretty silly way of planting a terrorist in Britain... Assuming that Afghanis don't have some sort of gene that predisposes them to hijack planes, I doubt this individual will be stealing another plane anytime soon. Yes, I see the irony, but that's about it.

ComeFlyWithMeMay 19, 2008 4:59 PM

A cleaner would be a fairly good place to hide in plain sight, if one wanted to. So what if the location is a mile from the airport? The fact is that trust would be gained over time. After a year on the job, there could be a phone call:

"Nazamuddin? We need you over at the airport today. Achmed called in sick, so we need you to cover his shift. We'll buzz you past security, because we can vouch for you..."

GrahameMay 19, 2008 5:08 PM

Is there any statistics about the rate of hijackinds since 9/11. My gut feel is that it's dropped a lot. In fact, I suspect that the ubiquitious presence of mobile phones and the increased likelihood that the passengers will fight back, along with the increased use of sky marshalls, the generally increased intelligence war on terrorism, and even the security theater have all contributed to a dramatic reduction in the attraction of hijacking

Davi OttenheimerMay 19, 2008 5:42 PM

@ Grahame

Perhaps statistics before 9/11 would be useful as well?

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0UBT/is_7_14/ai_59576754

"...the long-term pattern is marked by a general decline in the frequency of hijackings [...] In the peak years 1969-1970, there were eight times more hijackings than occur [in 2000]"

Boats are another story entirely. Piracy has rapidly increased over time. Even conservative estimates show water-based hijackings surpassed US$20 billion as an "industry".

http://www.icc-ccs.org/prc/piracyreport.php

Davi OttenheimerMay 19, 2008 5:50 PM

Wow, you really have to read the story all the way. The guy not only served time in prison, but he was found to be part of a group seeking asylum.

I suppose motive does not appeal to some, but if a British national escaped from a foreign country by hijacking a plane to return home, he (or she) might be termed a hero and given a job anywhere they want...even at the airport.

Alas, now he only identified as a hijacker?

Here are the details I found enlightening:

"Mohammidy was jailed for 30 months for his part in the hijacking but all of the gang members later had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal, which decided they had been acting under duress as they fled the Taliban.

They went on to win a High Court ruling preventing the Government from deporting them.

In 2006 they issued a joint statement saying they were desperate to be allowed to work and contribute to British society."

askme23May 19, 2008 6:14 PM

rats, this blog really has hit the skids. Too bad as I was startign to put thison my daily must read list.

Any suggestions for other security blogs?

Timm MurrayMay 19, 2008 6:54 PM

"Nazamuddin Mohammidy, 34, was one of a gang of nine that threatened to blow up an internal flight in Afghanistan, along with 173 passengers and crew, unless they were granted political asylum."

. . .

"The men, who said they had taken enormous personal risks to organise secret schools for girls in Afghanistan, said they considered themselves to be allies of Britain in its struggle against terrorism. "

These guys were trying to get political asylum from the Taliban, albeit in a questionable way. That's quite a terrorist they caught, there. Next you'll tell me I can't fly with nail clippers.

SejanusMay 20, 2008 1:07 AM

A stupid question: whats wrong with a hijacker working at the airport? I. e. Guys with a real hacking experience work at IT and security in specific :]

csrsterMay 20, 2008 1:38 AM

This was the hijacking where, iirc, over half the "victims" (ie passengers) claimed asylum in the country they were hijacked too.

KaukomieliMay 20, 2008 2:24 AM

If this was bad publicity for a company I could not avoid the feeling that a there is some serious astroturfing going on in the comment-section of this article.

AnonymousMay 20, 2008 4:01 AM

I've worked at heathrow before, and the main (new) BA offices are close enough to the site to be considered "At Heathrow". There are also existing offices just outside the perimeter fence, but inside the perimeter road but I don't know what security is needed for there. It could be the BAA requirements, or just BA's own.

I used to work at the BA Engineering base at Heathrow as a contractor and even then before 9/11 there was a minor background check to get a pass. When that was upgraded to an airside pass then a slightly more extensive check was made, but it's still not even close to that of basic security clearance needed to work for the MOD.

But, I would still have thought being a convicted hi-jacker would not have been able to get any BAA security pass.

Would be a good place for a terrorist to get intel though....

EponymousMay 20, 2008 9:19 AM

What makes a former terrorist potentially recidivist is not his methods, but his motives. The fact that he used a method similar to the 9/11 attacks clouds the fact that his motives were incidental and not ideologically anti-western or fanatical at all. I'd bar him from working at an airport due to his past, but otherwise leave the guy alone, he served his time. The job of security is to secure, not to stereotype.

ThomasMay 21, 2008 6:38 AM

Despite all the CCTV cameras, no-fly lists, RFID passports, nail-clipper confiscation, databases and shoe-removal we can't even keep track of 'terrorist hijackers' that we know about.

Security Theater: every show is sold out, and they always do an encore!

suoersnailMay 22, 2008 2:50 AM

Nothing surprosing here.

Large UK companies have been outsourcing and subcontracting to dubious employment agencies for years in order to avoid thier legal obligations as employers.

Its not surprisning they dont know who "works" for them.

Not as funny as the illegal immagrants paid to clean the Home Office thouugh.

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