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Israeli Experts Advise on LAX

October 20, 2006|Jennifer Oldham | Times Staff Writer

Israeli security experts provided local aviation officials with recommendations Thursday for further fortifying Los Angeles International Airport against terrorist attacks.

A trio of security officials from the authority that operates Ben-Gurion airport, near Tel Aviv, gave a preliminary assessment of vulnerabilities at LAX to local experts after a 3 1/2 -day tour, during which they examined terminals, the airfield and the perimeter.

Officials said details of the report would not be made public for security reasons.

"They had a half-dozen suggestions; some of them are very low tech, some of them are very high tech," said Airport Commission President Alan Rothenberg. Ben-Gurion International Airport serves as many passengers annually as the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, he said.

Some suggestions would be easy for the city's airport agency to implement itself, he added, but others would require assistance from the Federal Aviation Administration and the federal Department of Homeland Security.

The visit represents the latest effort by city officials to upgrade security at LAX, which is considered the state's No. 1 terrorist target and has been singled out by the Al Qaeda network. The city's airport agency picked up the tab for the three officials to come to Los Angeles.

City Councilman Jack Weiss invited the delegation to Los Angeles after attending a homeland security summit in Israel earlier this year.

Nahum Liss, head of the security planning division at Ben-Gurion airport, and Hadas Leviaton and Alon Brown, security experts in the authority, toured LAX with police and fire officials, and received a briefing from the Transportation Security Administration, which manages screeners at security checkpoints. Local team members will present a formal report to the city after the security experts return to Israel, officials said.

"It's unprecedented to see a team from Israel and a team from the United States sitting down together and sharing knowledge," said Ehud Danoch, the consul general of Israel in Los Angeles.

Israeli airport security is recognized throughout the world as the gold standard, known for employing fortification and behavioral recognition tactics to keep terrorists off balance.

"These people are very open about the fact that they're always reevaluating their own systems," Weiss said.

They "are trained to truly think like terrorists, and the fact that we have the best minds available helping LAX officials do that will make us more safe."

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