NEW YORK (Reuters) - The security scare that shut the Newark, New Jersey airport for hours and delayed thousands of passengers was caused by a man who slipped into a secure area to give a woman a goodbye kiss, video released on Thursday showed.
The video of Sunday’s incident showed that a federal officer at the airport left his post shortly before the man walked by the same spot and into a secure area.
The video was released by a U.S. senator amid rising concerns over aviation security threats after an attempted bombing aboard a December 25 U.S.-bound flight.
Earlier in the silent video, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer is seen apparently asking the same man to move away from the security cordons that guide arriving passengers out of the secure area and into the concourse.
The video shows the TSA officer leaving his desk and walking toward the airport concourse.
The man then slipped underneath a security cordon, met a departing female passenger who had already passed through a security checkpoint, and gave her what appeared to be a goodbye kiss, the video showed. The man and woman, who remain unidentified, walked off screen hand-in-hand.
The TSA officer, who has been placed on administrative leave, returned moments later.
The breach at Newark Liberty International Airport, one of three major airports serving the New York City area, rattled security officials and the airline industry because it came so soon after the botched Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner.
“It is unacceptable that the Port Authority (the agency in charge of the airport) took so long to produce this tape, but now that it is public we have a better chance of getting to the bottom of this major security incident,” Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, who released the video, said in a statement.
The video can be viewed on the Internet here
The security scare closed the airport for hours and prompted authorities to force thousands of passengers to go through security screening again.
One of the planes hijacked in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States took off from the Newark airport. That flight crashed into a Pennsylvania field after passengers confronted the hijackers.
Authorities shut down a California airport on Tuesday after a suspicious amber liquid in a passenger’s bag tested positive for explosives — only to determine that the substance was merely a harmless container of honey.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Will Dunham