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Why top terror groups are focused on targeting planes

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 12, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHARLES PAYNE, GUEST HOST:  In the wake of that suspected Plame bombing in Somalia, Homeland Security Secretary Johnson is now saying terror groups are staying focused on attacking airplanes.  

To Fox News' Catherine Herridge with the latest -- Catherine.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX CHIEF INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT:  Thank you, Charles.

When you look at the last two major plots, the device was smuggled through airport security using an airport insider.  The Russian Metrojet that was brought down by an ISIS bomb in Egypt last October used an improvised explosive device.  You see this image that ISIS posted to social media of the device that they said had a two-hour timer and that was smuggled onto the jet.  

An airport mechanic has recently been arrested.  In the Somali case, it was an airport insider that allegedly passed the laptop computer -- you see the surveillance video here -- onto the suicide bomber, who also used a wheelchair to further disguise his intentions.  

The homeland security secretary told reporters this week that his department has made changes based on what happened.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEH JOHNSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY:  We sent inspectors to airports, not just the specific one, but a number of them in the region, I`m always concerned about not just responding to the last event, but the potential future event, which is not going to be identical to the last event.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HERRIDGE:  On their face, these attacks appear to be formally directed by terrorist groups, ISIS in Egypt and the al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, so it does show some level of premeditation to infiltrate the airport systems, to get around the more intense screening of passengers, and then to go for the mechanic or the baggage handler or the cleaning crews who have access to the jets.  

And Johnson said that there are ways to make overseas airports comply with the additional screening and security.  One of the things they have done, is they have tried to limit the access points to the airport for airport workers, and if these airports that fly directly to the U.S. can`t meet some of these requirements, the U.S. does have the ability to reject the request to land at airports here in this country, Charles.  

PAYNE:  Catherine, we -- most of have seen the video and the Somalia handoff, and it just looked extraordinarily just so easy to do, if you will.

HERRIDGE:  Right.  

PAYNE:  And it`s alarming.  And I understand that maybe we will intensify screening and those things, but there`s still the notion that they could fly to a different country that`s not necessarily as rigorous as we are, and then the plane could leave from that country which is friendly to the United States head here.

HERRIDGE:  Right.  

PAYNE:  It just doesn't feel foolproof at all.  

HERRIDGE:  Well, there are couple lessons here.  

One is a piece of advice I was given years ago when I started working in this area, which is that terrorism is like water and it takes the path of least resistance.  So it`s a thinking enemy.  You move one way, and it moves another.  

That`s why we're seeing these terrorist groups in the last few plots focus on the airport insider, rather than trying to get the devices through on passengers, because of the additional screening.

On your point about foreign airports, the U.S. really has no control over foreign airports, except for those that fly directly to the United States.  Just to emphasize, in those cases, if they`re not meeting additional requirements that Homeland Security is suggesting, they can`t stop those planes from taking off, but they do have the ability to prevent those planes from landing in this country.

PAYNE:  Right.  

HERRIDGE:  And that`s a pretty powerful incentive to comply.  

PAYNE:  Catherine Herridge, thank you very much.  

HERRIDGE:  You`re welcome.  

PAYNE:  Well, reaction from retired U.S. Army General and Vice Chief of Staff Jack Keane.  

General Keane, thanks for joining us.  Of course, this is very alarming.  

I would suspect emboldened by the successful bombing of that Russian plane in Egypt, and now this attempt in Somalia, how dangerous is this risk?  How dangerous has it become?  

GEN. JACK KEANE (RET.), FORMER U.S. ARMY VICE CHIEF OF STAFF:  Well, aircraft are always going to be something that terrorists are interested in, because you bring down an airliner, you have drawn the world's attention.  

And then you can intimidate literally hundreds of thousands of people who travel the skies every year.  So, this will always be an objective, and until such time as we truly get these airports properly secured, the terrorists will have a degree of success, as Catherine pointed out, bringing down the Russian airliner, and this came dangerously close to being successful here in Somalia.  

So, here we have ISIS, who is supposedly on the defensive, trying to defend Iraq and Syria, they have got nine affiliates.  They have expanded into in the Middle East, into North Africa, and also into Southern Asia.

And they have got three more affiliates, one in Somalia that is about to be approved.  And they clearly are providing guidance and resources to conduct operations against people who are infidels or nonbelievers, to accomplish these kinds of operations to break people`s will, and also to get the kind of attention that they want.  

So, this is a very active organization that is fighting the conventional battle in Iraq and Syria, but conducting operations that are terrorist operations, not only in the region, but outside of it.  Quite remarkable.

PAYNE:  Catherine -- Catherine Herridge talked about all of our security being right up front as we go enter, but now considering maybe the back end is exposed, that ISIS now targeting baggage handlers and airport employees, are we prepared for that?  

KEANE:  Well, I think in our country, there`s been looking at this very hard.  And I think they recognize there are some weaknesses here, proper background checks, proper surveillance.  

I`m assuming that we have made some great strides here.  But get outside the United States and get outside the major airports in Europe or in Israel, and I think we have got to have a level of concern that security is not what it is, and, therefore, the terrorists are going to take advantage of it.  That -- this is what they do.  

They will find a weakness and exploit it.  

PAYNE:  What I`m really concerned about is the connecting flight.  And in this particular case, they were able to leave a device on the plane.  Any idea about sort of these connecting flights?  They go from Somalia, perhaps to, let`s say, Heathrow, and then it goes from Heathrow to here.  I think these are the concerns we have, because these guys are slippery.  And they figure out ways to circumvent anything we put up there.

KEANE:  Well, one of the things that our people are very concerned about is just what you`re suggesting.  

And we have -- I think our are our viewers know we have security forward- deployed in those major airports that fly to the United States.  I`m talking about big population center airports, like London, Paris, et cetera, in Europe.

And those connecting flights and what is going on our airplanes, they get very, very close scrutiny.  And so I`m not as concerned about that, because we have people there that are very sensitive to this issue that we`re talking about, not just the passengers, but the baggage themselves.  

PAYNE:  General Jack Keane, thank you very much.  Really appreciate it.  

KEANE:  OK.  Good talking to you, Charles.  

PAYNE:  You, too.  

END

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