Metro Airport eyes safety measures as U.S. issues travel warning
The State Department’s new holiday travel risk alert for Americans following increased terrorist threats around the world is pushing Metro Detroit officials to examine their safety measures for Thanksgiving travel.
Brian Lassaline, a spokesman for Detroit Metro Airport, said Monday that “it is prudent for us all to be on a heightened sense of alert” in light of the recent attacks and threats.
“While we are not aware of any specific airport threats, our public safety team continues to work with our federal law enforcement partners to share intelligence,” he said Monday night. “The freedom to travel is one of our most basic freedoms and we remain committed to vigilantly protecting the safety and security of the traveling public — our No. 1 priority.”
The travel alert, which is in effect until Feb. 24, said current information suggests that militants with the Islamic State, al-Qaida, Boko Haram and other terrorist groups continue to plan attacks in multiple regions. U.S. authorities said the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of the Islamic State group return from Syria and Iraq, and other individuals not affiliated with terror groups engage in violence on their own.
Extremists have targeted sporting events, theaters, open markets and aviation targets. In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Lebanon, Turkey and Mali. IS has claimed responsibility for the Oct. 31 bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt, killing 224 people.
“U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation,” the alert said. “Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.”
That caution is guiding efforts in Detroit, as well.
Lawrence Meyer, director for the Detroit Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, said in a statement that the city and federal, state and private sector “are working closely to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to ensure the public’s safety.”
He did not release details of the security collaboration.
Meanwhile, besides road closures and viewing restrictions along Woodward Avenue planned Thursday for America’s Thanksgiving Parade and Turkey Trot in Detroit, “we are understanding of the current safety concerns globally, and are working diligently with the city’s incredible law enforcement agencies of the Detroit Police Department and Homeland Security who are the safety experts,” said Tony Michaels, president and CEO of the Parade Company, in a statement.
“We take their lead in all safety matters and we are all committed to bringing Detroit a safe and enjoyable” parade.
The State Department said the United States is exchanging information with allies about threats of international terrorism.
The travel alert was issued the same day that Belgium’s prime minister announced that Brussels would remain at the highest alert level for at least another week. The increased security measures following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people have virtually shut down the Belgian capital.
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