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French reporters smuggle handgun onto airplane

By Kim I. Hartman     Jan 8, 2011 in World
Paris - An investigation is underway at Charles de Gaulle and Marseille airports after journalists filming a special for French TV were able to smuggle the parts of a 9mm handgun on-board a plane in their carry-on luggage and reassemble it during the flight.
The journalists, identified as Linda Bendali and Mathieu Lere, successfully boarded a morning flight from Charles de Gaulle airport to Nice on November 8 and returned to Paris from the Marseille airport carrying a disassembled 9mm semi-automatic handgun, without being detected by airport security officials at any of the passenger screening areas, according to a report released by France24.
The reporters set out to investigate the routine screening of passengers traveling through French airports by private security companies, who critics say are not properly trained, said the report on France24.
Linda Bendali told France24: “The security agents were attentive - that wasn't the problem. It was a lack of understanding of what they were supposed to be looking out for. They are not very familiar with dangerous weapons.”
The journalist's, who were traveling together, packed the individual parts of the handgun in two separate carry-on bags before passing through security checkpoints, which added to the difficulty in spotting the weapon, said the France24 report.
The French national police authority and officials at both Charles de Gaulle and Marseille airports have refused to comment until they have seen the full report, said France24. The Envoyé Special report was scheduled for broadcast Thursday, January 6, on France 2.
FOX News reports, Nicholas Compte, general secretary of the police union told the AFP, "This demonstrates a real problem today that outsourcing security to private companies automatically leads to lower levels of security. We must have state controls on screening."
France is not the only country where concerns have been voiced about poorly trained airport security personnel. Security experts have questioned the experience of TSA agents at US airports in recognizing and preventing weapons or explosives from being carried onto planes by passengers.
ABC news recently reported: "that every year since the September 11 terror attacks, federal agencies have conducted random testing where undercover agents try to see just how much they can get past security checks at major U.S. airports."
The rate of failure has reportedly stunned experts in the security field.
According to one Department of Homeland Security report, which ABC said was leaked to the media, undercover TSA agents testing security at a Newark airport in 2006 found that TSA employees failed to detect concealed bombs and guns 20 out of 22 times.
A 2007 government audit leaked to USA Today revealed that explosives and bomb parts made it through Los Angeles's LAX airport in 50 out of 70 attempts, and at Chicago's O'Hare investigators were successful on 45 of 75 attempts to clear security checkpoints with weapons or bomb making materials.
The USA Today report said: "Terrorists bringing a homemade bomb on an airplane, or bringing on bomb or gun parts and assembling them in the cabin, is the top threat against aviation."
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