The hijacking of EgyptAir shows the security vulnerabilities that still exist post-9/11. Although the increased security measures are supposed to limit the probability of the presence of weapons or explosives on a plane, a hijacker can still make an empty threat of having a weapon and achieve the same attention-seeking results. In the EgyptAir hijacking, it was reported that the hijacker was wearing an explosive belt, but during the hostage release and negotiations, it was clear that it was just a fake device.

Though security measures have increased since the terror attacks of 9/11, each country and airport have varying levels of security. Additionally, corruption, limited baggage searches, failing security equipment, and poorly vetted airport employees can weaken the security barrier that is supposed to protect flight passengers. Egyptian airports in particular have proven to have compromised security. Prior to the EgyptAir fiasco, Metrojet Flight 9268 was brought down in October, 2015, when an explosive devise detonated inside the aircraft. The plane crashed over the Sinai Peninsula, killing everyone aboard.

All potential hijacking threats are now like a game of Russian roulette. Is it a real threat or a hoax? All threats have to be taken seriously, just as the EgyptAir hijacking was. Once the EgyptAir crew learned of the potential threat, they took necessary measures to alert authorities of the potential bomb. Once on the ground, hostage negotiators had to determine the extent of the threat using psychological techniques and strategies common to law enforcement.

The hijacker’s willingness to communicate and their underlying motivations drive the negotiations, which can often last for hours to days depending on the demands and the stakeholders involved. In this case, the suspect reportedly hijacked the plane in a desperate attempt to get a meeting with his ex-wife.

With compromised airport security, a hoax is just as powerful as a real threat. Flights still get diverted and it still gets media attention across the world.

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