Glenn Reynolds thinks the recent hijack attempt proves that El Al security isn’t what it’s made out to be. However, I feel he’s missing the point: the guy may have defeated one part of the security chain, but that doesn’t mean that the El Al model doesn’t work. That’s why the cockpit doors on El Al flights are reinforced and cannot be opened from the cabin. That’s why there are armed sky marshals on every flight. Because even if the screening process misses something, there’s another link on the security change to prevent further damage.
The media is reporting that the suspect wanted to use the aircraft to make a September 11 style attack on Israel. However, because of the El Al security model, that goal would not have been possible. There’s no way that he could get into the cockpit to take over the plane.
Any major system will have its flaws, and no security system is foolproof. However, the key is redundancy – if one link in the system fails, there are others to ensure that catastrophe is avoided – which is exactly what happened on that flight.