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News Article - May 14, 2007

Possible Security Gap at Philly Airport  
  Fort Dix terror suspect Mohamed Shnewer was arrested in his taxicab at the airport. He had free access to an area closed to the rest of us, but that apparently didn't set off any alarm. Private vehicles picking up passengers at baggage claim are quickly shooed away. No lingering and waiting. It's a security and safety issue. "The police are pretty adamant about not stopping and keeping everybody moving along," said Rob Theisen of Bensalem.

   But Action News has found that directly behind baggage claim, just about anybody can park and linger as long as they want. That includes trucks, like the one that carried the bomb that destroyed the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995. Most travelers told us there should be any access at all, but there is and it's not difficult.

   The road behind the terminal is for commercial vehicles only. Taxis, limos and service vehicles are supposed to go through this gate, pick up a pass and hand it over at a guard booth before going in. However, we found an unguarded, wide-open entrance just a little bit further down the road. I drove in with a rented minivan. I parked the van, got out and walked away. Other vehicles were parked along the curb for upwards of an hour with no one checking on them.

   On the other side of the building, police were waving cars away and towing anything left unattended. On the commercial road, we found a large SUV sitting unattended, but airport personnel appeared more concerned about us than the truck. A ground transportation supervisor who wanted to know if we had permission to be there approached us. We did have permission because it's a public area where passengers go to catch a cab or private limo. An airport employee who also wanted to know if we had permission then approached us.

   They finally realized we were taping an unattended vehicle without a permit on the dashboard. The first guy called the police who came to check it out. The driver turned out to be an electrician doing work at the airport, and the officer checked his credentials. "I'm glad he did his job and that's what he's here for," said Frederick Mumenthaler of Eagle I Electric.

   But he was checked only because we drew attention to his vehicle. The police say they have regular patrols, and they were surprised to hear about what we found. "I'll absolutely look into some of the gaps you pointed out to me to see if there's something we can do to ensure that any safety gaps down here are closed," said Lt. Louis Liberati.

Source - 6ABC



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