SOURCE: International Institute for Counter-Terrorism

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has, since its final loss of territorial control in March of 2019, sought to maintain relevance on the global stage through its facilitation and encouragement of attacks by its sympathizers against targets outside of Iraq and Syria. Of all the potential targets, one of the most attractive for ISIS is the Aviation Industry.

Two recent successful attacks by ISIS sympathizers against aviation targets illustrate this point:

(1) In October of 2015, a Russian Airbus A321 plane was brought down over Egypt by an explosive device hidden in a soda-can container, which was placed onboard the plane by an airport employee sympathetic to ISIS. All 224 people on board were killed in the crash:

(2) In March of 2016, two ISIS sympathizers exploded suicide bombs at the entrance to the international airport terminal in Brussels, Belgium. A third suicide bomber also blew himself up inside a train carriage in a subway station next to the EU parliament building2 were killed and 340 injured in the attacks:

These two attacks illustrate not only aviation facility security vulnerabilities, but also the danger of the “insider threat.” Following the bombing of Russian Airbus A321 in Egypt, US security agencies reported discovering 69 US airport employees with suspected ties to ISIS during their investigations. In Belgium, one of the three suicide terrorists had worked at the Brussels airport terminal for five years, ending in 2012. Additionally, Brussels airport police reported that they identified at least 50 airport employees who overtly expressed support for ISIS, many of whom had direct access to planes on the flight lines. In 2016, a Jihadist affiliated with ISIS was interviewed on an American radio station in New York and stated that ISIS has agents dispersed at sensitive facilities around the world, including airports in the West. He stated that the organization made sure that its operatives integrated as employees at these sensitive facilities.


CASI provides corporate flight departments with dedicated and trusted professional security required for worldwide flight operations to help mitigate aviation terrorism threats.

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