TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The terrorist attack at Istanbul Atatürk Airport has officials across the United States on alert. Airport officials are worried about other terrorists and copycats.
News Channel 8 talked with a terrorism expert about Tampa International Airport. We walked through the airport with the export. Bill Warner said once you’re past the TSA security checkpoint, you’re good to go. However, he said, the airport is extremely vulnerable before that point.
His concern starts at the curb. “There’s no security here to stop and search cars,” Warner explained. “That’s not how it is.”
He also pointed to the crowded shops and stores. There’s a black hole the airport has to fill, Warner said.
“If they get this far … it’s a big problem,” he warned.
Warner showed News Channel 8 the strengths and weaknesses of the airport’s security.
Warner said Tampa International may be more vulnerable than other airports.
“I would say from my point of view, yeah … You have multiple entrances on both sides of the building, vulnerable to a car bomb outside, vulnerable to a terrorist attack in the doorways,” he said.
With that said, there are safeguards in place.
“The dog walking around here with the police officer, the armed police officer, that’s great,” Warner said. “Checking out bags, checking out garbage bags. That’s what needs to be done.”
Most travelers News Channel 8 spoke with said they feel safe.
“I think if it’s your turn, it’s your turn,” Mark Sheffer, of Tampa, said while waiting for a friend to arrive from London. “You can’t really question and live your life in fear.”
Yvonne Armstrong was traveling home to New York. She echoed a similar sentiment.
“You can’t go around being afraid,” Armstrong said. “You just have to live your life. You can’t just worry about constantly being attacked.”
Warner believes people are becoming very complacent even though an attack, he says, is definitely possible. He believes people should be worried, especially with the military’s presence in the Tampa Bay area.
“MacDill Air Force Base, CENTCOM (U.S. Central Command), is the one who operates all the drones in the Middle East taking out ISIS soldiers,” Warner added. “So as far as payback, yeah. We’re probably at the top of their list.”