It's still early to say what brought down the Egyptair jet overnight, but "if you had to come down on the side of the scale, it would be terrorism," and this is a "real issue" with regard to the potential of an insider threat at U.S. airports, Rep. Pete King said Thursday.
"It is not official but indicators are in that direction and you know what happened in the past with Egyptair, knowing how ISIS has been talking about it," the New York Republican, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and the chairman of the House Counterintelligence Subcommittee, told Fox News
' "America's Newsroom" program.
"I don't want to prejudge this," King continued, "but if I had to bet right now I would say most likely it is terrorism, but there is always a chance of mechanical defect, but again, in the world in which we live, I would lean toward terrorism right now."
Back at home in the United States, there is a "real issue:" There are nearly a million workers behind the scenes at the nation's airports, following news reports of the presence of ISIS supporters at European airports, including Paris, King said.
"The real issues we had, we think most have been resolved here in the United States, but again not all," said King. "Certainly when it comes to France and European countries insiders, that is where the real threat I think comes. Obviously you have to check passengers going on board but insider threat is in many ways more difficult to stop and I know the French intelligence has been very concerned about the presence of Islamist supporters, working at airport, being at the airport."
Meanwhile, ISIS appears to be changing its tactics on the ground, and as there appears to be a measure of success against the insurgents, King said there has to be "much more concern about the possibility of spectacular attacks," as "ISIS is suffering losses on the ground."
The attacks show ISIS is still "very much alive," said King, and even though it has suffered some losses on the battlefield "we have to be more on the lookout than ever."
In the United States' airports, which are experiencing long lines and delays because of a shortage of TSA agents
, King said the issue is more that of convenience than of security, but still it does need to be addressed.
"There has to be the consideration of more use of [the] right contractors, even though that is not necessarily going to solve it, but it could be a step in the right direction."
King also believes the nation's airports need more police officers, as TSA employees are unarmed.
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