The Philippine National Police’s Aviation Security Group (Avsegroup) has deployed additional personnel to secure areas around the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) following reports of a terrorist plot to bomb or hijack Saudi Arabian aircraft, officials said yesterday.
Chief Superintendent Francisco Balagtas, Avsegroup director, said he met with officials of Saudia Airlines on Wednesday as they discussed measures to secure the firm’s planes as well as those of other airlines.
He said he deployed police officers from the Special Operations Unit around NAIA’s terminals. They are equipped with assault and sniper rifles and two-way radios, as well as mobile phones and binoculars, Balagtas added.
He also said bomb-sniffing dogs were deployed at sensitive areas of the terminals.
Jesus Descanzo, Manila International Airport Authority assistant general manager for security and emergency services, said the Saudi government’s request for X-ray machines at NAIA Terminal 1 was approved and they are just waiting for the equipment to arrive.
The Saudi government also requested the Office of Transportation Security to intensify body and luggage inspections for those traveling to and from Riyadh, he said.
Earlier this week, the Saudi Arabian embassy was reported to have notified the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are allegedly initiating and supervising a plan to hijack or bomb a Saudi Arabian airplane to avenge the execution of a Shi’ite cleric in Saudi.
The embassy, in a note verbale dated Jan. 22, 2016 and addressed to the DFA’s Intelligence and Security Unit, requested the installation of X-ray machines at NAIA for flights to and from Saudi.
According to the note, the terrorists are reportedly in Southeast Asia. The team – consisting of 10 persons, including six Yemenis – were tasked to execute the plan.
The note stated that six of the terrorists have been identified and authorities believe they left for East Asia through Turkey on two separate flights to execute the plan.
While their names have been withheld from media, immigration officials have been alerted to their entry into the country.
The terror plot may be launched in Southeast Asia, most likely in Malaysia, Indonesia or the Philippines.