Posts Tagged ‘airport’

Orly airport attacker ‘had been drinking, taking drugs’, autopsy reveals — “He never prayed, and he drank.”

March 20, 2017

AFP

© THOMAS SAMSON / AFP | Police officers investigate at the house of the suspect of an attack at the Paris Orly’s airport, on March 18, 2017, in Garges-les-Gonesse.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-03-20

The man shot dead at Paris’s Orly airport after attacking a soldier was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time, a judicial source said Sunday.

Investigators are still trying to understand what motivated Saturday’s assault by 39-year-old Ziyed Ben Belgacem, which led to a major security scare and the temporary closure of the capital’s second-busiest airport.

“Toxicology tests carried out on Sunday showed an alcohol level of 0.93 grams per litre in his blood, and the presence of cannabis and cocaine,” the source said.

Ben Belgacem’s father had insisted earlier Sunday that his son was “not a terrorist” and that his actions were caused by drink and drugs.

Ben Belgacem, who was born in France to Tunisian parents, grabbed a soldier on patrol at Orly’s southern terminal on Saturday morning. He put a gun to her head and seized her rifle, saying he wanted to “die for Allah”.

The attacker, who had also fired at police in a northern Paris suburb earlier that morning, was shot dead by two other soldiers after a scuffle.

Ben Belgacem’s father insisted his son — who had spent time in prison for armed robbery and drug-dealing — was not a extremist.

“My son was not a terrorist. He never prayed, and he drank,” the father, who was in shock and whose first name was not given, told Europe 1 radio.

Investigators were examining his telephone.

The attack at Orly comes with France still on high alert following a wave of jihadist attacks that have claimed more than 230 lives in two years.

The violence has made security a key issue in France’s two-round presidential election on April 23 and May 7.

Not on terror watchlist

Ben Belgacem’s brother and cousin were released Sunday after they, like the attacker’s father, were held for questioning. All three had approached police themselves on Saturday after the attack.

After spending Friday night in a bar with his cousin, Ben Belgacem was pulled over by police for speeding in the gritty northern Paris suburb of Garges-les-Gonesse, where he lived, just before 7:00 am.

He drew a gun and fired, slightly injuring one officer. Shortly after, he contacted his relatives to tell them he had “done something stupid”, they told police.

Ben Belgacem later appeared at the bar where he had been the previous night, firing more shots and stealing another car before continuing on to the airport.

He had been investigated in 2015 over suspicions he had radicalised while serving jail time, but his name did not feature on the list of those thought to pose a high risk.

Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said Ben Belgacem appeared to have become caught up in a “sort of headlong flight that became more and more destructive”.

Dozens of flights to and from Orly were cancelled during an hours-long shutdown after the incident, but by Sunday afternoon air traffic had returned to normal, a spokeswoman for the Paris airports authority said.

The shooting took place on the second day of a visit to Paris by Britain’s Prince William and his wife Kate, which was unaffected.

‘I’ve screwed up’

Ben Belgacem’s father told Europe 1 his son had called him after the first police shooting “in a state of extreme agitation”.

“He said to me: ‘Daddy, please forgive me. I’ve screwed up with a police officer’.”

At the time of his death, Ben Belgacem was carrying a petrol can in his backpack, as well as 750 euros ($805) in cash, a copy of the Koran, a packet of cigarettes and a lighter.

A small amount of cocaine and a machete were found during a search of his home on Saturday.

Soldiers guarding key sites have been targeted in four attacks in the past two years but escaped with only minor injuries.

In mid-February, a machete-wielding Egyptian man attacked a soldier outside Paris’s Louvre museum, injuring him slightly, before being shot and wounded.

President Francois Hollande said Saturday his government was “determined to fight relentlessly against terrorism”.

(AFP)

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Paris Attacker Shot At Police on Saturday Morning in Paris, Died In Orly Airport Shooting Hours Later — Radicalized Muslim known to intelligence services

March 18, 2017

PARIS — The man who was shot dead by soldiers at Orly airport on Saturday was the same individual who had shot at security services earlier in the morning in northern Paris and was a radicalized Muslim known to authorities, a police source said.

“A police road check took place in Stains (northern Paris) this morning at 0700. It turned bad and the individual shot at the officers before fleeing,” one police source said.

“This same man – a radicalized Muslim known to intelligence services and the justice system – then took a Famas (assault weapon) from a soldier at Orly’s southern terminal … before being shot dead by a soldier.”

A second police source said the two incidents were linked.

(Reporting by Emmanuel Jarry; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

Armed: Three gunmen who attacked the offices of controversial magazine Charlie Hebdo this morning remain on the run this afternoon, causing authorities to heighten security

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Lockdown: The streets of Paris are being patrolled by soldiers dressed in combat fatigues and carrying Famas assault rifles this afternoon after a terror attack killed 12 people earlier in the day

Orly shooting: ‘radicalised Muslim’ killed at Paris airport had shot police officer

March 18, 2017

The Guardian

Police sources say man killed by soldier was earlier involved in incident north of French capital in which policeman was shot and injured

A man said to be a radicalised Muslim known to security services shot a police officer north of Paris before going to Orly airport, where he was shot and killed on Saturday morning.

The man was shot after he tried to grab a soldier’s weapon at the airport, interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said.

“A man took a weapon from a soldier then hid in a shop in the airport before being shot dead by security forces,” he said.

The soldier was part of the Sentinel special force installed around France to protect sensitive sites after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks.

Police sources said the same man was also involved in the incident at Stains, north of the French capital, in which a policeman was shot and injured during a road check.

No explosive devices were found on the dead man’s body, Brandet said.

© AFP | French special forces secure the area after a man was shot dead at Paris’ Orly airport, on March 18, 2017

Police evacuated both terminals at Orly and all flights have been suspended, with some diverted to Charles de Gaulle airport. Travellers have been told to avoid the airport while the security operation was under way. Some passengers whose flights had already landed were being held on board.

A witness, Franck Lecam, said: “We had queued up to check in for the Tel Aviv flight when we heard three or four shots nearby. We are all outside the airport, about 200 metres from the entrance.

“There are policemen, emergency workers and soldiers everywhere in all directions. A security official told us that it happened near gates 37-38 where Turkish Airlines flights were scheduled.”

No one else was injured in the Orly incident.

The French interior minister, Bruno Le Roux, is due to visit the airport, south of Paris, later.

The aiport shooting follows after a similar incident last month at the Louvre museum in central Paris.

France remains under a state of emergency in the wake of the attack on the Bataclan music venue in November 2015 in which 90 people were killed by jihadi gunmen, and the Nice truck attack last July that claimed the lives of 84 people and injured hundreds more.

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/18/man-shot-dead-at-paris-airport-after-trying-to-grab-gun-reports-say

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Man shot dead at Paris Orly airport after taking soldier’s gun: official

March 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP | French special forces secure the area after a man was shot dead at Paris’ Orly airport, on March 18, 2017

PARIS (AFP) – Security forces at Paris’ Orly airport on Saturday shot dead a man who took a weapon from a soldier, the interior ministry said, adding that nobody else was hurt in the incident.Witnesses said the airport was evacuated following the shooting at around 8:30am (0730GMT).

“A man took a weapon from a soldier then hid in a shop in the airport before being shot dead by security forces,” an interior ministry spokesman told AFP.

He said no one was wounded in the incident.

Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux is due to visit the facility, which is in Paris’ southern outskirts, the spokesman added.

“We had queued up to check in for the Tel Aviv flight when we heard three or four shots nearby,” witness Franck Lecam said.

“The whole airport has been evacuated,” the 54-year-old said, confirming what an airport worker, speaking on condition of anonymity, had said earlier.

“We are all outside the airport, about 200 metres from the entrance,” Lecam said.

“There are policemen, emergency workers and soldiers everywhere in all directions. A security official told us that it happened near gates 37-38 where Turkish Airlines flights were scheduled.”

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A picture taken on February 7, 2017 shows the wreckage of a burnt car in one of the main streets of the Cite des 3000 in Aulnay-sous-Bois

The wreckage of a burnt car in Aulnay-sous-Bois after angry French youths clashed with police over the alleged rape of a local man during his arrest. CREDIT:GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT /AFP/GETTY IMAGES 

The area around the Louvre museum in Paris has been evacuated after a huge security operation was launched this morning

The area around the Louvre museum in Paris was evacuated after a huge security operation was launched

ATTACK AT THE LOUVRE: Machete-wielding man shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ stopped by soldier, police say
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/02/03/shooting-at-louvre-french-soldier-reportedly-opens-fire-during-security-scare.html

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, crowd and outdoor

 Paris — April 2016 — A protestor kicks a tear gas cannister as demonstrators clash with anti-riot police. Photograph by Joel Saget, AFP, Getty Images
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Image may contain: one or more people, sunglasses and outdoor
Soldiers protecting Notre Dame in Paris

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FRANCE COULD BE READY TO LIFT STATE OF EMERGENCY, SAYS JUSTICE MINISTER

France may be ready to drop its state of emergency, which has been in place since the deadly extremist attacks on Paris in November 2015.

In a speech Wednesday, Minister of Justice Jean-Jacques Urvoas said: “We have created the conditions that make it possible to exit the state of emergency, without weakening ourselves or remaining helpless in the face of the threat of terrorism,” French daily newspaper Le Figaroreports.

The state of emergency has dramatically increased the number and visibility of armed law enforcement officials on patrol across the country and tightened the laws on public assembly.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, flower, plant, shoes, table and child

Its implementation proved controversial, with increased raids on Muslim communities in the immediate aftermath of the attacks attracting particular criticism from human rights groups.

Urvoas did not give any final date for returning to a lower state of alert, however it has to be approved on a bi-annual basis. The current extension ends in July – two months after France’s upcoming presidential election.

Paris Orly airport: Man killed after attempt to seize soldier’s gun — Hours after Minister of Justice proposes lifting “State of Emergency”

March 18, 2017

A man has been shot dead after trying to seize a gun from a soldier at Orly airport, French police say. Security officials have evacuated the building and urged visitors to avoid the area.

Image may contain: outdoor

French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the man ran into a shop inside the airport before he was shot dead on Saturday morning.

A bomb sweep was underway at the site to make sure the individual was not wearing an explosive belt, Brandet added.

The ministry also reported that a police officer was shot and injured in a separate incident north of Paris.

Emergency vehicles surrounded Orly airport as the elite RAID special police force secured the area.

Security officials evacuated part of the building and urged the public to keep clear while the police operation was underway.

[] On going police operation. Please respect the safety perimeter and avoid the airport area.

“We were waiting in line to board the flight to Tel Aviv when we heard three or four gunshots nearby,” witness Franck Lecam told AFP. “The whole airport was evacuated.”

A national police official said the soldier accosted by the slain man was part of the Sentinel special force installed around France to protect sensitive sites after a series of deadly terror attacks.

The man’s motive wasn’t immediately clear. No one else was reported to have been harmed in the incident.

Minister of the Interior Bruno Le Roux was on his way to the airport, his office reported.

France remains under a state of emergency after several recent terror attacks. In November 2015 multiple terrorists killed 130 people in simultaneous attacks in Paris. In July 2016, an attacker drove a truck through crowds in Nice celebrating Bastille Day, killing 86 people.

Orly airport is south of Paris and is the French capital’s second-largest airport after Charles de Gaulle.

nm/rc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

http://www.dw.com/en/paris-orly-airport-man-killed-after-attempt-to-seize-soldiers-gun/a-38006216

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A picture taken on February 7, 2017 shows the wreckage of a burnt car in one of the main streets of the Cite des 3000 in Aulnay-sous-Bois

The wreckage of a burnt car in Aulnay-sous-Bois after angry French youths clashed with police over the alleged rape of a local man during his arrest. CREDIT:GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT /AFP/GETTY IMAGES 

The area around the Louvre museum in Paris has been evacuated after a huge security operation was launched this morning

The area around the Louvre museum in Paris was evacuated after a huge security operation was launched

ATTACK AT THE LOUVRE: Machete-wielding man shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ stopped by soldier, police say
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/02/03/shooting-at-louvre-french-soldier-reportedly-opens-fire-during-security-scare.html

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, crowd and outdoor

 Paris — April 2016 — A protestor kicks a tear gas cannister as demonstrators clash with anti-riot police. Photograph by Joel Saget, AFP, Getty Images
.
Image may contain: one or more people, sunglasses and outdoor
Soldiers protecting Notre Dame in Paris

*************************************

FRANCE COULD BE READY TO LIFT STATE OF EMERGENCY, SAYS JUSTICE MINISTER

France may be ready to drop its state of emergency, which has been in place since the deadly extremist attacks on Paris in November 2015.

In a speech Wednesday, Minister of Justice Jean-Jacques Urvoas said: “We have created the conditions that make it possible to exit the state of emergency, without weakening ourselves or remaining helpless in the face of the threat of terrorism,” French daily newspaper Le Figaroreports.

The state of emergency has dramatically increased the number and visibility of armed law enforcement officials on patrol across the country and tightened the laws on public assembly.

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting, flower, plant, shoes, table and child

Its implementation proved controversial, with increased raids on Muslim communities in the immediate aftermath of the attacks attracting particular criticism from human rights groups.

Urvoas did not give any final date for returning to a lower state of alert, however it has to be approved on a bi-annual basis. The current extension ends in July – two months after France’s upcoming presidential election.

Arrest of Islamic State-linked guard puts Malaysia airport security under spotlight — “A classic case of an insider threat”

February 13, 2017

13 Feb 2017 14:16

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s airport security has come under scrutiny following last month’s arrest of an airport security guard for suspected links to the Islamic State (IS).

He is believed to be the second airport personnel to be arrested by the Royal Malaysian Police in the past two years, a development counter-terrorism police and experts called a concern.

While initial investigations showed he was not planning any terror attack, he had plans to go to Syria to join IS, according to police.

SUSPECT HAD “FULL ACCESS … TO MALAYSIA AIRLINES AIRCRAFT”

The suspect was a security guard at Kuantan airport and had been responsible for Malaysia Airlines aircraft safety. “The suspect’s scope of duties… for the airline’s safety operations was anti-pilferage, anti-sabotage, anti-hijacking,” Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, deputy commissioner of the Royal Malaysia Police Special Branch’s counter-terrorism unit, told ChannelNewsAsia.

“He had full access to… Malaysia Airlines aircraft, including the cockpit, to carry out inspections.” He was also responsible for sealing and locking up aircraft parked overnight at the airport until they took off the next day, said Mr Ayob.

The suspect had worked at Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Kuantan airport in Pahang since October 2015, according to police. Prior to that, he had worked for Malaysia Airlines from September 2004 to September 2015 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

“It is dangerous to have someone turn radical who has access to an entire airport and its aircraft,” said Mr Ayob.

“You must remember that IS had called for those who are not able to travel to Syria to conduct attacks in their home countries,” he added.

Counter-terrorism expert Associate Professor Kumar Ramakrishna, who heads policy at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies called the incident a “classic case of an insider threat” where airport security may be compromised by radicalized “insiders working within the system”.

“The Russian Metrojet crash in the Sinai desert in October 2015 claimed (by IS) is one example of how deadly insider threats can be,” Mr Kumar added. An aircraft mechanic was believed to have planted the bomb on the Russian Metrojet, killing 224 people on board.

Asked whether IS was targeting people who work in strategic places for recruitment, Mr Kumar said: “This is not the first time such insiders have been identified. In addition, as ISIS comes under strategic pressure in the Middle East, it has called upon its supporters worldwide to conduct lone wolf attacks wherever they are, and some of these lone wolves could well be self-radicalized insiders such as airport workers, commercial pilots and military personnel.”

In 2015, an auxiliary police officer at KLIA was arrested for helping his brother-in-law, an IS member, pass through immigration checks to go to Syria.

SECURITY SCREENING FOR AIRPORT EMPLOYEES

Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), which operates KLIA, told ChannelNewsAsia its employees’ airport security passes are issued for only one year.

All employees are required to resubmit an application for an airport pass each year when the current one expires, said an MAHB spokesperson.

Applications for the airport passes are vetted by the Chief Government Security Office (CGSO), which is responsible for security over all government assets, said MAHB.

“MAHB works very closely with CGSO and PDRM (Royal Malaysia Police) in ensuring the security and safety of the airports,” said MAH’s spokesperson.

Malaysia Airlines told ChannelNewsAsia that newly recruited staff and key staff from selected departments undergo stringent background checks and recurrent checks conducted by the CGSO.

“We (also) require staff and vendors to attend security awareness briefings which is part of the Malaysia Airlines’ security programme, which includes subjects on… security processes and insider threats,” said Malaysia Airlines.

EMPLOYERS SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR SIGNS OF RADICALISATION

Associate Prof Kumar said screening of employees in sensitive jobs needed to be conducted more frequently.

“Screening… must be done more regularly, perhaps once every six months… as individuals can become radicalised after the initial screening process. This would entail additional time and resources but I believe we have little choice given how the threat has become more complex over time,” said Mr Kumar.

Mr Ayob also called for supervisors to pay greater attention to their staff to identify red flags and early signs of radicalization, especially for staff working in sensitive positions.

He said that supervisors should look out for red flags such as if an employee frequently fails to turn up for work without a good reason, or starts to distance him or herself from other staff.

Mr Ayob added that supervisors should also look out for early signs of radicalization. Radicalized individuals may express hatred towards those who do not share their views and spend long periods chatting on social media platforms such as Facebook and Telegram at the onset. They may also challenge authorities, promote violence or possess IS related symbols such as the IS flag, said Mr Ayob. IS supporters are also known to liquidate their assets to raise money to fund their passage to Syria.

“Supervisors tend to see this as a security issue to be handled by the police, hence such monitoring is currently lacking,” said Mr Ayob.

Malaysian police currently conducts security check on new applicants entering the civil service, military, police force, airlines and airport service.

“After the applicants get the job, their supervisors are responsible for monitoring them,” said Mr Ayob. He also suggested that employees working in critical places should have their smartphones checked.

“There is also a need to monitor senior employees. When they joined years ago, IS did not exist,” said Mr Ayob.

Suspect in Florida Airport Shooting Was Dogged by Past Troubles

January 9, 2017

Officials say mental illness is a possible factor; terrorism not ruled out as a motive

Esteban Santiago, the suspect in the shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, lived at a home in Anchorage, Alaska. Police secured the scene there on Friday while agents worked inside the home.

Esteban Santiago, the suspect in the shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, lived at a home in Anchorage, Alaska. Police secured the scene there on Friday while agents worked inside the home. PHOTO: MARC LESTER/ALASKA DISPATCH/ZUMA PRESS

ANCHORAGE, Alaska—The teenager who joined the Puerto Rico National Guard in 2007 returned home in 2011 after a tour in Iraq as a disturbed young man, family members said.

Then in 2014, Esteban Santiago headed northwest for this snowbound city. He served in the Alaska National Guard, found a girlfriend and a job in security, and became a father.

Yet his troubles followed, and his new life here unraveled soon after it started. He fretted over a looming economic collapse, was prosecuted for domestic violence, and told federal officials in November he was tormented by voices in his head.

On Friday, Mr. Santiago, 26 years old, flew to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with a gun and ammunition packed in his luggage, law-enforcement officials said. For reasons that are still unclear, authorities say, he allegedly shot into the crowds at the baggage claim area of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, killing five, wounding six and throwing the travel hub into chaos. The government filed charges against Mr. Santiago on Saturday. The potential penalties if he is convicted include life in prison or the death penalty, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of Florida.

Mr. Santiago, 26, allegedly opened fire on Friday at the airport in Florida, killing five and wounding six.

Mr. Santiago, 26, allegedly opened fire on Friday at the airport in Florida, killing five and wounding six. PHOTO: BROWARD COUNTY SHERIFF

It was unclear on Sunday whether Mr. Santiago had legal representation yet.

Law-enforcement officials say they haven’t ruled out terrorism as a motive, and are also examining mental illness as a possible factor. Mr. Santiago told federal officials weeks before the shooting that the government was trying to control his mind, and forced him to watch terror propaganda videos, law-enforcement officials said.

“He was having terroristic thoughts and believed he was being influenced by” Islamic State, said Anchorage Police Chief Chris Tolley, in a news conference Saturday.

On Sunday, Adam Schiff (D., Calif.), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN “there may have been statements” from Mr. Santiago “he made after his arrest that he was in contact with people overseas.” Investigators “are still trying to figure out whether that’s true or whether this is just part of the delusions,” he added.

Mr. Santiago returned from Iraq a changed person, after serving as a combat engineer for 10 months, family members said.

Hernan Rivera, his 70-year-old uncle, said Mr. Santiago’s parents were advised by the military before his return from Iraq that they needed to take classes in Puerto Rico to prepare for his arrival. They were told that because of his mental state, they shouldn’t speak harshly to him or ask probing questions, he said.

A National Guard spokeswoman didn’t comment on Mr. Santiago’s specific case but said optional classes are offered that primarily address communicating with family members returning from deployment.

“He was totally isolated,” Mr. Rivera said. He often holed himself up in his room and only spoke when others engaged him in conversation.

Mr. Rivera said Mr. Santiago received some sort of psychiatric treatment when he returned to Puerto Rico, but he is uncertain what it entailed. “It didn’t help him in any way,” Mr. Rivera said.

In the military, Mr. Santiago worked as a combat engineer—an occupation that combines construction and combat skills on the battlefield—and spent time at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri before deploying to Iraq from April 2010 to February 2011, according to Army records. During his service, he received a Commendation Medal and a Good Conduct Medal.

Mr. Santiago being transported by authorities to a jail in Broward County, Fla., on Saturday.

Mr. Santiago being transported by authorities to a jail in Broward County, Fla., on Saturday. PHOTO: JIM RASSOL/SUN-SENTINEL/ZUMA PRESS

Mr. Santiago arrived in Anchorage with his brother, his former landlord said, and moved into the Dimond Estates Trailer Park, an enormous neighborhood of trailers, some large and well-kept, others shabby. Mr. Santiago moved into a white-sided trailer with wood trim and a short flight of stairs leading up to a covered porch, where he lived with several roommates.

Mr. Santiago’s brother left Anchorage, but he stayed, said Victor Hurtado, his former landlord. The other tenants might cause trouble, but not Mr. Santiago, Mr. Hurtado said. He was polite, and paid the rent on time.

“I liked him,” Mr. Hurtado said, adding that he was shocked to hear his former tenant identified as the shooter. “You could trust him.”

Mr. Hurtado said Mr. Santiago rarely spoke about his time in Iraq. Mariela Hurtado, his wife, said Mr. Santiago only described it to her once as “ugly.”

Mr. Santiago served in the Alaska Army National Guard, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. He left the trailer park in December 2014, telling the Hurtados the military was paying for him to attend school, though it is unclear if he did.

He eventually moved into a home with his girlfriend in the city’s Fairview neighborhood, a dense mix of single-family homes and apartment buildings.

In January of last year, Mr. Santiago was charged with assaulting his girlfriend and property damage in a domestic violence incident, court records show. He was also found to be in violation of a stay-away order after his arrest, records show.

In March, he pleaded no contest to the charges, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement and was put on probation for a year, Seneca Theno, the Anchorage municipal prosecutor, said in an interview Friday.

Anchorage police responded to three other physical disturbances involving Mr. Santiago last year, including a domestic violence disturbance, and an allegation of strangulation—but they didn’t make arrests in those cases, Anchorage Chief Tolley said at a Saturday press conference.

Police searched the Fairview home, as well as the Qupqugiaq Inn, a somewhat dilapidated Anchorage motel in connection with the investigation, they said Saturday—though it is unclear if Mr. Santiago lived at the inn. Police declined to give any details on the search, saying only that it was connected to their investigation.

For a time, Mr. Santiago worked as a security guard at Signal 88, a firm that patrols businesses and private residences. A Signal 88 representative said, “We are working with authorities and we have no comment.”

Mr. Santiago was known for showing up for work on time, covering shifts for co-workers, and dealing calmly with the drunks the security guards would have to roust from the properties, according to a former co-worker and friend.

“The Esteban I know was always calm and well-mannered,” said the former co-worker. “I never saw the man get angry.”

Even when drunk vagrants would yell obscenities at Mr. Santiago and call him a rent-a-cop he didn’t get riled up, he said.

Mr. Santiago liked to talk about investing in silver and bitcoin.

“He was obsessed with investing in silver,” said the former co-worker. “He even had a silver guy who he bought bars of silver from.”

Mr. Santiago tried to get his colleagues to invest in silver, too. “He thought the collapse of the economy was imminent,” the former co-worker said.

Mr. Santiago rarely mentioned his girlfriend or his new baby, the former co-worker said.

Mr. Santiago had multiple firearms, his former co-worker said, and usually carried a handgun.

Mr. Santiago didn’t talk frequently about his time in Iraq—but he didn’t avoid the subject, the former co-worker said.

On one occasion, Mr. Santiago showed his former co-worker some photos from the battlefield. They were pictures of blown-up corpses, and the aftermath of IED explosions, the former co-worker said.

“He wasn’t glorifying it,” the former co-worker said. “He was just making the point that he saw some crazy stuff.”

In August, Mr. Santiago received a general discharge from the Alaska Army National Guard as a private first class for unsatisfactory performance, according to Lt. Col. Candis Olmstead, director of public affairs for the Alaska National Guard.

On Nov. 7, Mr. Santiago walked into the Federal Bureau of Investigation office in Anchorage appearing agitated, federal officials said.

He had a loaded magazine on him, but he left his gun in his car, police said.

He told FBI agents that his mind “was being controlled by a U.S. intelligence agency,” said Marlin Ritzman, special agent in charge at the FBI’s Anchorage field office.

“During our investigation, we found no known ties to terrorism,” said Mr. Ritzman at a news conference Saturday. “He had broken no laws when he came into our office making disjointed comments about mind control.”

The FBI called local police, who confiscated his weapon and took him to a medical facility for a mental-health evaluation.

Mr. Santiago was admitted to a medical facility and later released, officials in Anchorage said. His brother, Bryan Santiago, told CNN in a Spanish-language interview that he was in the hospital for several days.

A month later, Mr. Santiago retrieved his weapon from Anchorage police. There was no federal law that prevented him from having a gun, authorities said.

Mr. Santiago lost his job after the incident, the former co-worker said.

On Friday, Mr. Santiago boarded a plane in Anchorage with a one-way ticket to Fort Lauderdale, authorities said.

“I just remember a normal nice regular guy,” his former co-worker said. “That I was blown the f— away was an understatement.”

Write to Zusha Elinson at zusha.elinson@wsj.com and Arian Campo-Flores at arian.campo-flores@wsj.com

http://www.wsj.com/articles/suspect-in-florida-airport-shooting-was-dogged-by-past-troubles-1483926053

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Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooter: Numerous red flags arose in months prior to Friday’s rampage

January 9, 2017

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By Megan O’Matz, Deborah Ramirez and Paula McMahon
Los Angeles Times

Authorities in Anchorage confiscated a gun from the accused Fort Lauderdale airport shooter after he came to an FBI office in November acting bizarrely and speaking of “terroristic thoughts.” But police gave the weapon back to him less than a month ago, authorities in Alaska said Saturday.

Emerging details raise troubling questions about why Esteban Santiago was allowed to have and keep a gun, and then check it on a flight.

Red flags were many in the months leading up to Friday’s rampage and even on the day Santiago boarded a plane to begin his journey to Fort Lauderdale. He bought a one-way ticket. Though traveling from wintry Alaska to balmy Florida, he stowed no luggage, checking only one item: a hard case containing a gun.

No gate agent or security official stood in his way.

Just two months earlier, he had told authorities he was delusional.

“Mr. Santiago had arrived at the FBI building asking for help,” Anchorage Police Chief Christopher Tolley said. “Santiago was having terroristic thoughts and believed he was being influenced” by Islamic State.

Yet Santiago was not on a government list of people prohibited from flying, set up after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“During our initial investigation, we found no ties to terrorism,” said Marlin Ritzman, the agent in charge of the FBI’s office in Anchorage. “He broke no laws when he came into our office making comments about mind control.”

The 26-year-old Santiago, an Iraq war veteran and an Anchorage resident, was agitated and incoherent when he visited the FBI office Nov. 7. He had a loaded magazine on him, but left his gun and infant son in a car, Ritzman said. Santiago told agents he did not wish to harm anyone.

The FBI contacted the Anchorage Police Department, which transported Santiago to a mental health facility. The department took his weapon and “logged it into evidence for safekeeping,” Tolley said.

Authorities would not say whether it was the same semiautomatic handgun used to kill five people at the baggage claim area of the airport.

The FBI closed its assessment of Santiago after reviewing government databases and checking interactions with law enforcement around the country. “He was a walk-in complaint,” Ritzman said. “This is something that happens at FBI offices around the country every day.”

The Associated Press in Puerto Rico reported Saturday that Bryan Santiago questioned why his brother was allowed to have his gun when federal authorities knew he had become increasingly paranoid and was hearing voices.

“The FBI failed there,” he said. “We’re not talking about someone who emerged from anonymity to do something like this.”

The Associated Press reported that Esteban Santiago, after the incident at the FBI office, had been held for four days for treatment and was released without medication or follow-up therapy.

Like many states, Alaska permits people to be held for up to 72 hours for a mental health evaluation. They can be committed longer with court approval.

Ten days after the visit to the FBI, on Nov. 17, police sent Santiago a letter asking him to pick up his gun, and an appointment was set for Nov. 30. When he showed up, however, the gun was not returned to him. Tolley did not say why. The firearm was finally released to him on Dec. 8, the police chief said.

Four weeks later, on Thursday night, Santiago boarded a Delta flight in Anchorage. Once in Fort Lauderdale, he recovered the gun at baggage claim, went into a bathroom, loaded the weapon and came out firing at people, police said.

“Our hearts go out to the families of the five who lost their lives,” Tolley said Saturday.

Alaska U.S. Atty. Karen Loeffler said federal law required that a person be adjudicated mentally ill by a court in order to be prohibited from possessing a gun. She said she knew of nothing in Santiago’s background that fit that exclusion criteria.

Louis Cohen, an advocate with the Fort Lauderdale chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America, said Delta employees should have questioned why a man “going to another climate from Alaska” had no suitcase and was checking only a handgun to Florida. “The answer could have been a clue,” he said.

Miami security expert Wayne Black said authorities had to do more to “connect the dots” when someone comes to law enforcement acting strangely and talking of terrorism. “We’ve got to keep them off planes with guns,” he said.

Medical privacy laws, he said, complicate the ability to make good judgments about people, but Santiago’s domestic violence history should have raised red flags. “It’s the perfect storm,” he said.

Anchorage police had dealt often with Santiago in the preceding year. Tolley listed several police calls involving Santiago, but did not give specifics.

On Jan. 11, police responded to a “physical disturbance” and an arrest warrant was issued against him for criminal mischief. In February, he was found to have violated conditions of his release because he’d been barred from his home, but officers found him there during a compliance check. He was jailed.

In March, another physical disturbance call was made to police, but officers could not establish probable cause to arrest him, the chief said.

On Oct. 15, officers investigated a domestic violence matter that also did not lead to arrest. Less than a week later, police received an allegation involving strangulation, but again, no arrest was made.

Court records show Santiago was charged in January 2016 in Alaska in a criminal mischief case involving the destruction of property and threats to an individual, a misdemeanor. Prosecutors dropped the case in March as part of a deal in which he likely agreed to probation or some kind of treatment.

Media in Anchorage have described a case in which Santiago was accused by his girlfriend of bashing in a bathroom door, yelling and attempting to strangle her.

Federal law prohibits people with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions from possessing firearms, but the ban does not apply if the victim was not a spouse or the couple did not have a child together, said Hannah Shearer, staff attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Records do not show a conviction against Santiago for domestic violence and he became a father only in September.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group, called Saturday for greater protections, noting that California and Washington state recently enacted laws allowing courts to temporarily remove firearms from people displaying dangerous signs.

The organization said Santiago’s history of domestic violence and apparent descent into crisis should have raised sufficient concern to confiscate his guns for a time.

John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, which presses nationally for better mental health care, said the tragedy illustrated “how broken our mental health system is in many parts of the country.”

He said in most places, including Alaska, someone complaining of delusions, even going into an FBI office and doing so, is going to be released from a mental health facility rather quickly, unless they seem to pose an immediate threat of danger.

Santiago left Puerto Rico several years ago because of the lack of adequate medical services for veterans, particularly mental health care, Nelson Cruz, a senator from Puerto Rico, told the Sun Sentinel newspaper in Florida.

Puerto Rico has a Veterans Affairs hospital and other facilities, but some, including Cruz, say the services are underfunded and understaffed to serve the needs of the island’s veterans.

“I believe this could have been avoided if Esteban had access in Puerto Rico to the same services that other veterans have in [other parts of] the U.S.,” Cruz said. “One of the reasons that he left Puerto Rico was to seek better services [for his mental health issues]. I’ve heard this from other veterans here.”

Santiago was suffering from mental issues when he returned from his National Guard tour in Iraq in 2011. The family said he was hearing voices and sometimes hallucinating, according to Cruz.

Bryan Santiago, a boxing trainer, told the senator that his brother had been receiving psychological treatment in Anchorage and described him as “functional.”

Cruz said he had known Esteban Santiago since he was a child and last saw him about seven years ago.

“A very intelligent young man, well-educated, a Christian and an athlete,” Cruz said. “He was a good son and very faithful to his older brother, who he adored.”

Cruz said he called the family Friday night to offer his support and that he prayed with Bryan and his mother over the phone.

“I spoke to Bryan last night and he said, ‘We’re very sad and we want to express our solidarity with the victims and their families,'” said Cruz on Saturday by phone from Puerto Rico’s Legislature in San Juan. “They are a very Christian family and are taking refuge in their faith.”

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-fort-lauderdale-shooter-20170108-story.html

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2,500 Hong Kong flights to be axed in November to phase in new air traffic control system

September 17, 2016

Aviation regulator insists move is necessary to avoid overloading controllers and prevent new system from crashing

By Danny Lee
South China Morning Post
Friday, September 16, 2016, 2:44pm

The cost of switching from an out-of-date and unreliable air traffic control system to an over-budget and much delayed upgrade will see 2,500 flights to popular travel destinations axed.

Hong Kong’s aviation regulator announced 90 passenger flights a day would be temporarily halted to help air traffic controllers transition to the new technology, which will eventually see them handle many more flights.

Citing safety reasons to avoid overloading controllers and prevent the new system from crashing, airlines were ordered to reduce flying schedules from October 30 until November 26, as first revealed by the South China Morning Post in May.

The planned reduction of overall flights by 6.7 per cent is in reality around 8 per cent because cargo flights have been spared. Some 2,520 flights will be temporarily axed over this period.

Non-peak season

Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary, Dragonair, which operate a combined total of more than 450 daily flights and form Hong Kong’s biggest airline group, face the largest cut among carriers.

The transition period for the air traffic upgrade was chosen because November is the busiest month for cargo flights but a non-peak season for passenger operations.

Destinations across Asia such as Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei and Bangkok will be affected, as will San Francisco, London and Vancouver among other routes.

 A spokesman for the airport said the change was a short-term arrangement and asked for public understanding. Photo: AFP

A Civil Aviation Department spokeswoman said: “The airlines concerned have committed that special arrangements will be made to meet market demand if necessary and they will make every effort to minimise the impact on travellers.”

‘Appeals for understanding’

Acting assistant director general of civil aviation Cheung Sau-tak insisted the flight reduction was standard practice for most authorities around the world. Cheung cited Britain and Dubai where flying schedules were reduced by 10-26 per cent for up to two months.

“We fully recognise the impact to the trade and the public arising from the slot adjustment, even though it is a short-term arrangement,” Cheung said. “The department highly appreciates the cooperation and support from the airlines and the industry in implementing this temporary arrangement and appeals for public understanding.”

It stressed the upgrade would bring long-term benefits on top of the planned third-runway system.

 http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/2019812/big-cuts-2500-hong-kong-flights-be-axed-november-phase-new

Horrific Explosions Rock Brussels — Caution: Some Images may be distressing

March 22, 2016

At least 23 people have been killed and dozens injured in Brussels after a series of terror attacks struck the city’s airport and a metro station near the EU headquarters.

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3503928/Two-explosions-heard-Brussels-Airport.html#ixzz43cthkGl4
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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Witnesses described apocalyptic scenes with blood and ‘dismembered bodies everywhere’ after two blasts rocked the American Airlines check-in desk at Brussels Airport at 8am (7am GMT) in a suspected suicide bombing. At least 13 people have died and 35 were injured.

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Around 90 minutes later, ten people are believed to have been killed when an explosion hit a Metro station just 400 metres from the EU headquarters in the city centre in another suspected terror attack.

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The explosions come just a day after the Belgium Interior Minister warned of possible revenge attacks after the arrest of Paris massacre suspect Salah Abdeslam in the city last week.

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At the airport, shouts in Arabic were reportedly heard before the explosions which sent shockwaves through the terminal building, shattering windows, knocking roof tiles off the ceiling and sending terrified passengers running for their lives.

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Samir Derrouich, who works at a restaurant in the airport, told MailOnline: ‘The two explosions were almost simultaneous.

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‘They were both at check-in desk. One was close to the Starbucks. It was awful. There was just blood. It was like the apocalypse.’

All flights are being diverted from the airport this morning as it remains on lockdown.

Passengers flee Brussels Airport terminal after explosions
Bravery: People are treated, comforted and given water by the emergency services as they help the wounded

Bravery: People are treated, comforted and given water by the emergency services as they help the wounded

Aftermath: A man lies stricken on the pavement as survivors kiss in relief after surviving the bombing, which has killed at least ten

Aftermath: A man lies stricken on the pavement as survivors kiss in relief after surviving the bombing, which has killed at least ten

Second attack: A person lies injured on the floor after an explosion was heard at the Metro station in the centre of Brussels

Second attack: A person lies injured on the floor after an explosion was heard at the Metro station in the centre of Brussels

Evacuation: Those on the tube network were evacuated from smoke-filled tunnels and walked along the tracks to the nearest station

Evacuation: Those on the tube network were evacuated from smoke-filled tunnels and walked along the tracks to the nearest station

Second attack: Around 90 minutes after the airport blasts, there were reports of an explosion at a station (pictured) in the centre of the city

Second attack: Around 90 minutes after the airport blasts, there were reports of an explosion at a station (pictured) in the centre of the city

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3503928/Two-explosions-heard-Brussels-Airport.html#ixzz43cs27xcI
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Photographs from inside the arrivals hall showed the floor covered in fallen tiles and dust as bloodied people hobbled out of the airport. Others injured were photographed lying on the floor.
Video showed terrified passengers running for their lives out of the building.

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Firefighters who entered the terminal to search for survivors are said to have found a third unexploded device, while armed police in protective clothing combed the building for more wounded travellers and suspicious bags.

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In the aftermath, thousands of people waiting for flights this morning were penned inside the terminal as police sealed off the shattered arrivals hall.

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People already checked in were then slowly evacuated through emergency exits – but were told to leave all their hand luggage as police checked bags for more explosives.

Evacuated passengers are being ferried onto buses and are being driven to a ‘crisis centre’ away from the airport, with women and children being moved first.

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Dries Valaert, 30, was waiting to get his boarding pass from a check in desk when the blast struck.

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He told MailOnline: ‘There was a first blast and then ten seconds later a second explosion. It was a big, big blast, the ceiling went down. It was just 30 metres from where I was.

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‘I saw people down on the ground and I just went running. I jumped over the security fences towards the departure gates as I thought it would be safer.

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‘My first intuition was to get out in case their were attackers with guns. I saw a woman around 18 years old with a hole in her hand with blood pouring out and a man with an injured ankle and two people down. There was lots of panic. People were running all over the place.’

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Mr Valaert, who was flying to a business meeting in Berlin, said he believed the bombs were hidden in suitcases that had just been checked in.

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He said: ‘The explosions were just behind the service desks, they were blown towards us. To me it is the most realistic possibility. I don’t think it was someone with a suicide vest.’

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All flights are being diverted from the airport this morning as it remains on lockdown.
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Flights due to land at Brussels-Zaventem, which handles 21million passengers a year, were sent to Antwerp, Liege, and Brussels Charleroi airports.

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Europe’s biggest airports are all increasing their security today. Heathrow confirmed it had stepped up its own ‘visible’ security in the wake of the attacks – with large units of armed police patrolling the airport this morning.

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The Belgian Interior Minister has raised the country’s security level to ‘maximum’ this morning as it prepares itself for more terror attacks in the wake of the airport bombings.

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British Prime Minister David Cameron offered his support to victims and called a COBRA emergency committee meeting to address the events in Brussels.

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He tweeted: ‘I am shocked and concerned by the events in Brussels. We will do everything we can to help.

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‘I will be chairing a COBRA meeting on the events in Brussels later this morning.’

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The incident came as the Belgian capital was on a state of high alert following the arrest of Paris terror attack suspect Salah Abdeslam in the city last week.

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Belgium’s Interior Minister, Jan Jambon, said the country was on high alert for a possible revenge attack following the capture of 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam in a flat in Brussels on Friday.

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‘We know that stopping one cell can… push others into action. We are aware of it in this case,’ he told public radio.
Passengers evacuated onto the tarmac at Brussels Airport

France is seeking Abdeslam’s extradition so he can stand trial for his alleged role in the November 13 rampage of gunfire and suicide bombings that killed 130 people in Paris.

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Belgium is under great tension, with its federal prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw saying yesterday that last year the country worked on 315 new anti-terror cases and nearly 60 so far this year.

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Indeed, many witnesses at Brussels Airport today immediately jumped to the conclusion that there had been a terrorist attack, which reflects the nature of the country.
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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3503928/Two-explosions-heard-Brussels-Airport.html

Carnage: At least eleven people have died and several injured after two explosions rocked Brussels Airport in a suspected terror attack

Carnage: At least eleven people have died and several injured after two explosions rocked Brussels Airport in a suspected terror attack

A soldier walks through debris after two explosion rocked a terminal building at Brussels Airport

A soldier walks through debris after two explosion rocked a terminal building at Brussels Airport

Debris litters the floor after two explosion rocked a terminal building at Brussels Airport

A man lies injured in the terminal

Firefighters search the terminal for explosives and survivors (left) as a man lies injured on the terminal floor

Shouts in Arabic were reportedly heard before the explosions which sent shockwaves through the terminal building, shattering windows

Shouts in Arabic were reportedly heard before the explosions which sent shockwaves through the terminal building, shattering windows

Injured passengers are covered in blood and dust after the explosions in the terminal building

Injured passengers are covered in blood and dust after the explosions in the terminal building

A man lies injured on the floor after two explosions rocked the the American Airlines check-in desk

A man lies injured on the floor after two explosions rocked the the American Airlines check-in desk

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3503928/Two-explosions-heard-Brussels-Airport.html#ixzz43cu4OGtw
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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