On the 22nd of March 2016, 16 people died and 141 were wounded during a terrorist attack of Islamic State at Brussels Airport. The airport building was so badly damaged, it took weeks before it was operational again.
The parliamentary commission and lessons learned
Shortly after the attack, a parliamentary enquiry commission was created. How could this happen? What could we learn?
By far the most important lesson was that the aviation police needed the support of the community if they were to be successful against this terrorist threat.
So what has been done to make the airport, and it’s community, resilient against this terrorist threat?
Training is one of the key aspects. Different training programs are organised for the airport community, these include:
- Tabletop exercises open to all airport departments
- Field training exercises
- COPRA training sessions against insider threat
- Evacuation exercises and briefings
- Security awareness sessions for airport staff (CFR the British GRIFFIN project)
- First response field training with the military and the airliners
- The INA project (Information Network Airport)
Supporting the victims
Since then, the attention has also been focused on the victims of the 22nd March attacks, which included passengers and airport staff.
Victim assistants from the Federal Aviation Police provide support for those still suffering from PTSD, and those who are afraid of entering the airport whenever they need to travel. A support system that is still well appreciated and necessary, even three years later.
For the staff especially, it is important that they are reassured, and that they feel comfortable again at the airport, which cannot operate without them.
Other measures taken at Brussels Airport since the attacks
At the airport, besides the reinforcement of the Federal Aviation Police, several technological and infrastructural measures were taken. There was the installation of roadblockers and ANPR cameras, CCTV systems where updated, facial recognition software and vehicle checkpoints were introduced.
Additional equipment was provided to the Aviation Police such as ballistic protection shields and helmets, CBRN detection equipment, vehicles, and medical – first aid – equipment.
A new training program for police officers was implemented focusing on behavioural detection, the first response to terrorist incidents, and the new threats such as drones.
Jo Decuyper, Chief of the Federal Aviation Police at Brussel Airport and Karima Douch, the first Police Victim Assistant for Brussels Airport will be joining us at the APAC Airport Security Summit taking place on 30th & 31st July 2019 in Sydney. Book now to hear their story.