Security vigilant at Hawaii airports after Brussels terrorist attacks

Honolulu International Airport

Security guards and law enforcement officers in Hawaii airports remain vigilant following terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium Tuesday (Monday night HST).

While a manager on duty at the Honolulu International Airport told KHON2 they could not discuss security protocols, the Department of Transportation confirms changes have been made.

“Safety and security is a top priority of the Hawaii Department of Transportation and with that being said, we are taking some additional security precautions. Because of the sensitivities involved, we can’t really get into the specifics of what those measures are,” said department spokesman Tim Sakahara. “It is temporary, so they are in place now and we will continue to have discussions with federal agencies and internally within DOT to determine how long these security measures will go.”

KHON2 spotted state sheriff K9 units patrolling the terminal Tuesday.

Travelers at airports across the nation are encouraged to stay on high alert.

After an overnight flight from Australia, Karen Blackall stopped in Honolulu before heading to Los Angeles. She became very emotional when told about the attacks. “I’ve got friends in Europe and I had someone close to me in Paris recently, so yes, it brings up some emotions,” she said.

Among those living near Brussels is a former Hawaii Pacific University student. Kim De Vidts and her family live in Belgium, about 10 kilometers outside the capital.
“The atmosphere, I would describe it as surreal,” she said. “Naturally, there is the infrastructural devastation. There is the horrific human loss, but there is also, I would almost say, a fear psychosis in society. People are afraid, but people are also angry. They’re angry over why this happened, how this could have occurred, but at the same time, it stems from not understanding why Brussels was a target.”

The Transportation Security Administration is deploying additional security to major airports in the U.S. KHON2 reached out to the TSA to see if Hawaii’s airports were on that list, but was told no further details would be given.

Related Story: TSA struggles with lowest staffing in years, despite call for heightened security

We did learn that since the Paris attacks in November, the TSA has enhanced information-sharing about potential terrorist threats with both Belgian and French authorities.

According to Honolulu FBI Special Agent Tom Simon, “The Honolulu FBI is not aware of any credible terrorist threat targeting Hawaii or the Pacific at this time. Our Joint Terrorism Task Force is closely monitoring the situation in Brussels, and the FBI remains in contact with our counterparts in the region. The public is reminded to remain vigilant and be aware of their surroundings. Anyone can report suspicious activity to the Honolulu FBI at 808-566-4300.”

Travelers tell KHON2 they feel safe, but plan to be more aware of what’s going on around them as they travel through busy airports.

“It’s a very big concern,” said traveler Mario Piccinin. “I think we are getting sort of accustomed, as awful as it sounds, getting accustomed to these things happening.”

All state and national flags are being flown at half-staff until sunset Saturday out of respect for the victims.

Honolulu Hale will also be illuminated in black, yellow, and red — Belgium’s flag colors — for the next seven nights.

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