Seventy Paris Airport Workers Have Security Passes Revoked over Extremism Fears

Rory Mulholland, Telegraph, December 13, 2015

Seventy workers at Paris airports suspected of being radical Islamists have had their security passes revoked since the deadly attacks in the city a month ago.

Security agents have also examined the contents of around 4,000 workers’ lockers at Charles de Gaulle and Orly as the airports authority attempts to weed out any potential terrorists working at the busy transport hubs.

French security sources have said that Islamist militants killed in a police raid in a Paris suburb five days after the November 13 attacks were planning to attack Charles de Gaulle, France’s biggest international airport.

The radicalisation of airport personnel sparked concern after the crash in October of a Russian passenger plane in Egypt which Western intelligence officials believe was brought down by a bomb smuggled on board by an airport worker.

Augustin de Romanet, chief executive officer of ADP, the company that runs the two Paris airports, said the state authority which issues security passes had carried out a screening after the attacks on Paris, in which 130 people were killed and 350 injured.

“Nearly 70 red badges were withdrawn after the attacks, mainly for cases of radicalisation,” he said in an interview with French media.

He said around 85,000 people had secure-zone clearance in the two airports, most of them working for airlines or for several hundred subcontractors.

So-called red badges are issued to people employed in the secure zone of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports, working for instance as baggage handlers, aircraft cleaners and suppliers.

“To be issued with a red badge, you have to be cleared by police, and if you work for a company that carries out security checks of in-flight luggage, you need three police checks,” De Romanet said.

Some airport workers suspected of links to radical Islam were placed under house arrest under state of emergency powers implemented after the attacks a month ago.

It emerged after the November 13 massacre that dozens of airport staff had their security passes revoked after the terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris in January, but others continued to work despite being on an intelligence watchlist as potential Islamist extremists.

There has also been concern about radicalism among bus, metro and rail employees in the Paris region. Samy Amimour, one of the attackers who blew himself up in the Bataclan rock venue in Paris, had worked as a bus driver despite being on an intelligence watchlist.

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