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Airport stormers from North Africa “had already been refused entry to Europe”

As four men – described as three Algerians and one Moroccan – face magistrates today for their invasion of Lisbon airport’s runway on Saturday night, investigations have revealed that three of them had already tried and been refused entry into Europe.

Nonetheless, interior minister Constança Urbano de Sousa has stressed that authorities here have found no reason “that obliges an increase to Portugal’s terror alert”.

The incident that forced Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado airport to close for over half an hour on Saturday evening (click here) is being seen as a “desperate attempt to gain entry to Europe”, and nothing more sinister than that.

The group’s travel documents were all genuine – and other than the fact that none of them possessed entry visas either for Portugal or Cape Verde, and three had already failed in attempts to travel to France and Spain – there was “nothing to suggest” the men had “any connection to terrorist groups”, adds Diário de Notícias.

Airports authority ANAC is still investigating what is still being considered to have been “a serious failing” in security, while António Nunes, president of OSCOT (the Observatory of Security, Organised Crime and Terrorism) has said that “there are flights of heightened risk” now that Europe and the rest of the world is in “an unstable situation”, and security protocols must take these into account.

Flights from North African countries, for example, pose these risks, he explained, and Portuguese airports have to invest in greater police presence “whether PSP agents, or private security personnel” to accommodate the situation.

Nunes stressed that airport security should be“more preventive than reactive”, and that he would like to see “external entities” evaluating the complex’s security plans in future.

One aspect no newspaper seems to have mentioned this far is that flights exist between Algeria and Cape Verde, so why did authorities in Algeria not query
the men’s travel plans, considering they had no visas for entry into Portugal, and flying via Lisbon was effectively doing two sides of a long and unnecessary triangle?

WHO ARE THE NORTH AFRICANS WHO BROUGHT FLIGHTS TO A STANDSTILL?

Meantime, national tabloid Correio da Manhã has been gathering details of the North Africans who caused 12 flights to be diverted (to Faro, Porto and Madrid) as well as tailbacks in many schedules.

One has been named as 25-year-old Mouhamed Azzala. Another was 20-year-old Ishak Ali Ben Yahia, aged 2o – and a third is described as a 30-year-old cook.

The cook is understood to have been the 5th man who didn’t make it onto the runway, and has already been repatriated.

Expected today are either custodial sentences for the four arrested on Saturday night, or repatriation.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com