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If a Terrorist Group Controls an Airport, What Could Go Wrong?

Just short of four months ago, I wrote a short piece here expressing concern about Hezbollah’s infiltration of Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport. The airport is a central channel for the supply of Hezbollah and an asset for which the group considers worth fighting. When Hezbollah turned its guns on its fellow Lebanese in 2008, part of its motivation was to keep control over the airport in the face of government efforts to exert its authority over the country. Lebanese said that while security officials and personnel at the airport wore Lebanese army uniforms and were largely clean shaven, they were still Hezbollah’s men.

Against the backdrop of the Arab Spring and violence in Libya and Syria, Hezbollah’s subsequent take-over of the Lebanese government has generated little attention. Not only does a terrorist group now control a major airport into which Western carriers fly, but a government which should provide oversight no longer can. No worries, though. Neither the Obama administration nor the State Department would want to make waves and raise the issue of how Hezbollah’s control of Beirut’s airport might create diplomatic tension with the new Lebanese government.  Hezbollah members might screen luggage, or load it onto the airplanes which then trans-shipped anywhere Air France, Alitalia, Lufthansa or Turkish Air fly–but what could possibly go wrong?



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