Cablegate: Security Procedures and Emergency Response at Tripoli International Airport Tripoli 00000248 001.2 of 003
From: CBPC, EACTAPP [EACTAPP@state.sgov.gov]
Sent: Friday, March 21, 2008 11:08 AM
To: EACTTripoli(Main State Room 2530)
Subject: TRIPOLI 00000248 P SE 21-MAR-08 SECURITY PROCEDURES AND
EMERGENCY RESPONSE AT TRIPOLI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT 
PP RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN
DE RUEHTRO #0248/01 0810911
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 210911Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3263
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 3755
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 TRIPOLI 000248
DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/MAG AND INR E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/6/2018
TAGS: PINS PTER PGOV EAIR PREL LY
SUBJECT: SECURITY PROCEDURES AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE AT TRIPOLI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TRIPOLI 00000248 001.2 OF 003
CLASSIFIED BY: Chris Stevens, CDA, AmEmbassy Tripoli, State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
1. (S) Summary. Authority at Tripoli International Airport is clearly divided between security services and civilian authorities, General Youssef al-Jeribi, the airport's director, told a visiting Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) team and Emboffs on March 3. Together with top security and intelligence officials, al-Jeribi briefed the U.S. delegation on current airport security practices and explained competencies of the eight security services charged with protecting Tripoli's airport and its passengers. The Internal Security Organization (ISO) maintains a 70-member counterrorism "rapid response" team that can deploy to any crisis nation-wide within 60 minutes; in addition, an armed air marshall flies on all international and domestic flight in Libya. The airport leadership also briefed the U.S. team on the airport's emergency protocols and plans to expand with the construction of a new international passenger terminal. Libyan officials were forthcoming in their discussions of internal procedures, which potentially augurs well for further cooperation on airport security in the future. End summary.
2. (S) On March 3, Tripoli airport director General Youssef al-Jeribi briefed a visiting ATA assessment team and Emboffs on current security procedures at at Tripoli International Airport. The director of airport security, the assistant director of the airport, the chief of the Internal Security Organization (ISO) office at the airport, the chief of the External Security Organization (ESO) office at the airport, the chief of the airport's passport division, and the chief of the airport's uniformed police also participated in the meeting. C.B. Stevens, Director of North Africa Programs in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security's ATA office led the U.S. team, which also included representatives from POL/ECON, RSO, and RAO.
AUTHORITY DIVIDED BETWEEN SECURITY SERVICES AND CIVILIAN ENTITIES
3. (S) According to al-Jeribi, authority at Tripoli International Airport (TIP) is clearly divided between civilian authorities and security services. The director of airport security is responsible for coordinating activities of the eight independent security agencies working at the airport -- the Internal Security Organization (ISO), the External Security Organization (ESO), Customs, Passports/Immigration, the Office of the Director of the Port of Tripoli, the Office of the Director of Airport Security, the Civil Protection Department, and the uniformed police. As airport director, al-Jeribi is responsible for overseeing all civilian departments: the Departments of Finance, Legal Affairs, Administration, and Safety. In the event of a crisis requiring coordination between civilian and security authorities, Libyan agency representatives agreed (after some debate) that the airport director (al-Jeribi) is responsible for overseeing both services' response to the crisis. The Libyan military is not/not involved in airport security, nor would it be involved in any emergency response.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF SECURITY SERVICES WORKING AT TRIPOLI AIRPORT
4. (S) The Internal Security Organization (ISO) maintains the largest presence at the airport and is responsible for all physical and technical security at the airport facility. ISO employs technical surveillance to track all passengers entering the airport from curb-side, through check-in and passport control, until they board their out-going flight. All X-ray machines in TIP are operated by ISO officers. In addition, ISO is responsible for document control and passenger screening of all Libyan nationals traveling in or out of Tripoli International Airport. ISO showed the U.S. delegation a video control room, staffed by two ISO officers and a control room director, housing approximately 25 video monitors capturing live video from the airport's runways, terminal, baggage facilities, and roadways around the terminal building. The airport leadership mentioned without elaboration that ISO, along with ESO, captures still images of all travelers passing through document checks.
5. (S) In addition, ISO also oversees a 70-member anti-terrorist "rapid response" team based in Tripoli (not/not at the airport) that TIP's ISO Director can call on in the event of an emergency. Libya hopes to create a group of anti-terrorist SWAT teams in line with international standards that can respond "like a surgeon" to any crisis, the airport's ISO director told the delegation. ISO also maintains a dedicated plane to transport the Tripoli-based anti-terrorist team to other locations in Libya. The airport's ISO Director said the ISO anti-terrorist team could arrive at any airport in Libya within 60 minutes of notification of an incident.
6. (S) The External Security Organization (ESO) is responsible for tracking all non-Libyans traveling through TIP airport. ESO maintains a watchlist of foreign nationals, focusing on TRIPOLI 00000248 002.2 OF 003 counterterrorism and preventing illegal migration, and uses the watchlist to screen all foreign passengers traveling to/from Libya. In addition, ESO is solely responsible for providing security to official delegations traveling to Tripoli. ESO officers, along with ISO officers, provide covert surveillance in all public areas of the airport. Finally, ESO is responsible for "facilitating travel by foreign diplomats". In practice, this means that ESO officers (not/not passport and immigration officials) perform document checks and baggage screening on foreign diplomats arriving at and departing from TIP airport.
7. (C) The uniformed police are responsible for providing overt security to the airport facility and surrounding areas. By contrast with ISO officials, police officers provide an "obvious, visible" presence. Police do not/not maintain any technical surveillance capabilities of the airport facility. The Chief of Police at the TIP airport told the U.S. delegation that police maintain an active presence on the roads surrounding the airport, the taxi rank in front of the passenger terminal, the airport's parking lots, and the tarmac. Police authority is generally limited and the ISO Director noted that ISO, not the uniformed police, would be responsible for any crisis response.
ARMED AIR MARSHALL ON ALL FLIGHTS
8. (S) Assistant Director of the TIP airport Ezzeddin told Poloff that an armed, Libyan air marshall travels on all international and domestic flights operated in and out of Tripoli's airport. He did not specify which security service provided the air marshalls. (Note: His remarks echo a January 24 remark by Libyan Arab Air General Director Tarek Arebi to CDA that Libyan security services provide armed air marshalls on all international and domestic flights. End note.)
9. (C) Three authorities are charged with planning the TIP airport's response to a crisis: the National Committee for Aviation Security (NCAS), the Committee for Airport Security (CAS), and the ISO's Office for Prevention and Counterterrorism (OPC). The NCAS is a civilian authority that oversees current security practices at Libya's airports and recommends changes to extant security procedures. The CAS is a committee consisting of department heads from TIP's eight security departments and has the authority to respond in real-time to an incident at TIP airport. The OPC is responsible for overseeing the ISO's program to develop a team of counterrorism rapid response teams.
10. (C) In the event of an emergency (such as a hijacking), TIP airport maintains an ICAO-approved emergency plan that calls for all security and civilian services to cooperate within the CAS under the leadership of the Director al-Jeribi. During a crisis, al-Jeribi is solely responsible for communicating between the airport and civil aviation authorities. TIP airport has a dedicated location to be used in the event of a hijacked aircraft.
11. (C) According to al-Jeribi, Libya has already partnered with Italy, France, Jordan, and Egypt to provide security training to Libyan personnel working at TIP. Most training courses take place in Libya and are designed to enable Libya to better select "future leaders" for training abroad. He expressed his hope that some senior security officers could receive practical training in the United States.
AIRPORT DIRECTOR BRIEFS ON AIRPORT EXPANSION PLANS
12. (SBU) Al-Jeribi also briefed the U.S. delegation on plans to open a new passenger terminal capable of carrying up to 20 million passenger per year. He said the airport had not put out any procurement requests for security equipment at the new terminal, noting that TIP management plans to wait until the completion of terminal construction before acquiring new equipment. He said the GOL has a cadre of experts capable of selecting the necessary security equipment and that Libya will not/not require outside assistance in choosing which equipment to purchase. Al-Jeribi noted that the airport has received a number of unsolicited proposals for equipment sales from foreign companies, including American, British, French, German, and Chinese companies. Once the new passenger terminal opens, the current TIP international terminal will be used for domestic flights. Cargo operations will remain at Matiga Airport in Tripoli.
13.(C) Comment: Airport officials were forthcoming in their description of internal operations and protocols, and expressed strong interest in further U.S.-Libyan cooperation on airport security training. Post is currently working with the GOL to TRIPOLI 00000248 003.2 OF 003 facilitate an airport security training program under EXBS auspices, with a target date of May. End comment.