This is all a form of warfare — instilling terror and fear. This is a threat. If they could access the fuel tank so easily, why not place a bomb? As jihadis did on the Russian passenger jet that they blew out of the sky.
“Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers,” Quran (3:151)
UneasyJet: Terror alert at Arabic scrawled on planes’ fuel tanks,” EXCLUSIVE by Rob Pattinson, Sean-Paul Doran, and Katie Hodge, Sun, November 28, 2015:
EXCLUSIVE: Security breach fears at French airports
POLICE admit they are “worried” by Arabic graffiti found on panels covering the fuel tanks of four easyJet planes in France.
Aviation experts say only a handful of carefully vetted staff should have access to the tanks while aircraft are refuelled.
A memo from easyJet’s head of security told workers of the apparent breach and assured them a team was hunting those responsible.
Another email, from easyJet cabin safety manager Lisa King, told all staff to be vigilant and follow detailed instructions should they find “an inscription in Arabic”. She told employees: “As of today we have had four aircraft in France with written inscriptions on the inside of the fuel panel, and toilet door in Arabic script.”
The airline refused to reveal its security procedures or say at which of the 18 French airports it operates from the graffiti was found. It did confirm the writing had emerged in the past week.
EasyJet insists the graffiti — a translation of which had not been released last night — is not a direct threat to flights.
Concerns … easyJet plane on the runway at Orly Airport in Paris
Concerns … easyJet plane on the runway at Orly Airport in Paris Reuters
But an aviation expert with the Gendarmerie, the French police force responsible for airside security in France, said the graffiti was “a problem”.
He added: “It is worrying. Why is there graffiti on a plane? This should not happen.”
The scare follows the Paris massacre of a fortnight ago and the downing of a Russian Metrojet last month which killed all 224 people on board.
IS claimed responsibility for that attack and said they planted a bomb in a drinks can, which went undetected as the plane left Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.
Philip Baum, editor of Aviation Security International, said: “Graffiti in itself won’t hurt anybody.
“But the ability of anyone to place a prohibited item near fuel tanks is a concern, of course.
Wreckage … 224 died on Metrojet
Wreckage … 224 died on Metrojet Maxim Grigoryev/AFP/Getty
“Bombers want to create a little explosion that blows up then uses plane fuel as the main charge and creates the big explosion.
“We know there are people working in restricted areas of airports with extremist sympathies.”
The Gendarmerie expert added: “It is very difficult to manage security at airports. At Paris Charles de Gaulle there are around 80,000 people working.
“That this has happened is not a surprise. People are working every day to improve security levels but it’s really a very hard task.”
Aviation expert Julian Bray, a former security and operations consultant to major airlines said: “It is not unheard of for ground crew to add their initials or names to planes.
“It happens a lot in the Far East and Middle Eastern airports where security is very lax. But it’s unusual to hear of this in france where security levels are strict.
“It’s not just about the graffiti, it’s an indicator of lax security. Any fiddling with fuel access panels is a concern.”
Plane captains are responsible for checking the exterior of aircraft before take-off while the four cabin crew help search inside.
But crews have complained they are not being given enough time to carry out the checks.
A source said: “A lot of cabin crew are unhappy they only have seven minutes to check the aircraft for anything suspicious.
“You just can’t make absolutely sure there’s nothing to harm or kill people in just seven minutes.”
EasyJet yesterday assured passengers it had ruled out any security threats from the graffiti.
It also insisted all crew were given time to check their planes.
A spokeswoman said: “EasyJet assessed this issue, each time in full consultation with the authorities, and is entirely satisfied it is nothing more than graffiti.”
But fliers were yesterday unconvinced by the airline’s assurances.
Mum Mary Redmond, 56, of St Albans, Herts, landed at Luton yesterday having flown with easyJet from Belfast.
She said: “I would not want to get on a flight if that had happened. It means someone has got to somewhere they shouldn’t be.”
Office worker Loretta Hingston, 30, of Stevenage, Herts, was flying to Scotland. She said: “If someone who should not be able to get that close to a plane can get that close, what else have they done?”