NEW: Daallo Airlines CEO comments on security concerns
Sources say a laptop computer concealed a bomb
In a video released by officials, an airport worker takes the laptop and hands it to another employee
Several members of the FBI are on the ground in Somalia to help authorities there investigate an inflight explosion aboard a commercial airplane, which the African nation’s transport minister called “a deliberate act of terror.”
In a video made public on Sunday by officials, one airport worker takes the laptop and hands it to another employee.
The employees then hand it over to a man who was killed when the laptop explosion blew a hole in the plane’s fuselage, said Abdisalam Aato, a spokesman for the Somali Prime Minister.
Both workers have been arrested.
Somali officials identified the lone fatality as suspect Abdullahi Abdisalam Borleh. He was sucked out of the airliner through the hole from the blast Tuesday.
Bomber knew where to sit
Investigators suspect Borleh, a Somali national, carried a laptop computer with a bomb in it onto the plane, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
He knew precisely where to sit and how to place the device to maximize damage, the source told CNN.
Given the placement, the blast likely would have set off a catastrophic secondary explosion in the fuel tank if the aircraft had reached cruising altitude, the source said.
But the explosion happened at a lower altitude, between 12,000 feet and 14,000 feet, killing the Somali national and injuring two others.
Though preliminary tests showed the bomb contained a military grade of the explosive TNT, the source said, it failed to bring down Daallo Airlines Flight 3159. The pilot turned around and landed the Airbus safely in Mogadishu.
“Security at our airport is strong, but we need to do more,” Aato told CNN in response to concerns about airport security. “While threats will always be there, this could happen at any other airport,” he said.
Somalia asked U.S. officials for help with investigations, and several FBI agents are on the ground assisting in Mogadishu, the spokesman said.
“This was a sophisticated attack … so we reached out to our international partners,” Aato said.
Region in turmoil
Asked about comments reportedly made by the plane’s pilot that security at Mogadishu Airport was “zero” with confusion over who accessed planes from the tarmac, the CEO of Daallo Airlines confirmed there had been concerns.
“He’s right. You know, there are some lapses, otherwise this (would have) never happened,” CEO Mohamed Ibrahim Yassin told CNN.
“You know the region is a region which is under turmoil … so you can expect such things to happen,” he said.
“It is happening all over the world, it’s not only happening in Mogadishu. You know, this threat is all over the place. Now we’ll add one more layer of security now. We have employed a professional security company … to do secondary screening.”
Militants behind attack
Investigators believe the attack was orchestrated by the al Qaeda affiliate Al Shabaab, although they are not certain that Borleh was a direct member of the group, according to the source. No group immediately took responsibility for the act.
Some of it targeted tourists, such as last month’s deadly attack on a beachside restaurant-hotel complex in Mogadishu. Young people also have been targets, as shown in the massacre at Kenya’s Garissa University College. The general public also hasn’t escaped the group’s violence, as evidenced in a 2013 assault on an upscale mall in Nairobi.