Director Rick Mathews discusses the Death of Osama Bin Laden on YNN

3 May, 2011

How has bin Laden's death impacted security?

YNN Albany

Solomon Syed

While the death of Osama bin Laden sparked celebrations for some, for others, it brought fears of reprisal attacks. YNN's Solomon Syed headed to Albany International Airport to find out how travelers are feeling about flying, and how security personnel are handling the heightened threat level.

COLONIE, N.Y. -- He may be dead, but the result of Osama Bin Laden's legacy's on full display at the Albany International Airport includes long lines at security and on-going TSA pat downs in attempt to prevent another 9/11 from ever happening again.

"Well, I've always felt just as safe as ever," said traveler Ruth Masiewicz.

Those sentiments echoed by many in the terminal; they feel just as safe Monday as they ever have. Airport spokesman Doug Myers said everything is normal despite the elevated security level, but counterterrorism experts say bin Laden's death could also elevate al Qaeda's efforts.

"Al Qaeda's a network. It's not like an organization with a single CEO and always following simple directives," said Rick Mathews, who founded UAlbany's National Center for Security and Preparedness. He helps train New York State's Homeland Security agents.

He said, "It's reasonable to expect that al Qaeda operatives or cells will try to exact some revenge, if you will."

And at least one flyer feared some bin Laden backlash.

"I felt less safe to be honest," said Tyler Flynn. "I didn't know if his people were gonna do anything about it so I kinda felt less safe."

But others are confident it's just too soon for a coordinated attack.

"I don't think you can get a ticket and get organized that fast," said traveler Lee Moore. "I think there would be more chance in getting hurt in some mall or something like that."

Mathews agrees that malls and other so-called soft targets with minimal security are at greater future risk than airports. But much like the small pieces of information that led to bin Laden's death, he said people should stay vigilant.

"They should be alert for their surroundings, something that looks to be different or out of place, unusual behaviors, and then like we say, if you see anything unusual, say something," said Mathews.

And what Mathews refers to there has turned into the statewide "see something, say something" campaign. He stresses how important that is because given how long it took to find bin Laden, given the intelligence network we have, it shows just how complex al Qaeda really is and how much help authorities need in stopping terror plots.