Has airport security ever foiled a terrorist plot?

I mean a situtation where a terrorist was about to board a plane and they would not have been caught except through the vigilance of airport security. I’m curious whether increasing airport security actually makes air travel safer, or if the money would be better spent funding active counter-terrorism operations by law enforcement.

From Wikipedia:

On El Al

And El Al does serious background checks on it’s passengers.

Great, but for practical reasons most US airlines will never do any of this. We can’t even put a single air marshall on every flight. Or every ten flights. Or every 20 flights. You get the picture.
To the OP- probably not. I mean, have you seen the TSA screeners at your average major US airport? What, was the DMV not hiring that week?!? In most cases, they are the exact same folks who were screening before 9/11/01, only with about 15 minutes’ more training.

Okay, yes, I am being cynical and harsh, but come on- inconvenience does not equal security.

The simple existance of a security screen means that any plot that would be foiled by the security screen is not going to be planned. Remember the skyjackings of the 60s and 70s? You could walk onto a plane just like boarding a city bus, with no security screening at all. People would bring guns on board and hijack the plane to Cuba.

So searching passengers and passing them through a metal detector doesn’t foil skyjackers by catching them when they try to bring guns onto the plane, it foils them because they don’t even try to bring guns on the plane.

I doubt one can cite an example of American airport stopping a terrorist-after all if they are arrested they usually don’t immediately blurt out their intentions. And while I certainly am not in favor of airport security as I think it is almost worthless-I have to point out the literally thousands of real weapons confiscated every year at airport security. Everything was “forgotten” by the person involved and is not to be interpreted as a foiled hijack attempt, but they do exist.

Perhaps the key word is attempt. Hijacking became obsolete on about noon on 9/11. Once all aircrews decided they would not surrender the aircraft (and the air force reached the conclusion that hostile aircraft would be shot down), hijacking became pretty much obsolete. Blowing up/crashing an aircraft is still quite possible, but unscheduled flights to Cuba or New York just won’t happen any more.

In the midst of the tightest security they can muster, the staff at Heathrow just let a 12 year old boy onto a plane without ID, passport or boarding pass. The “problem” wasn’t noticed until he had been seated and given a snack and a drink. This was after he passed through at least two security checkpoints.

What the fuck, Chuck?


And this anectode only proofs that any human operated security system has weak point - human operators. But we already knew that.

I’d still argue that chances of planes being hijacked by armed gunmen or some schizophreniac trying to blow plane up are considerably smaller than without all that security.