KANSAS CITY — A recent report compiled when Kansas City was seeking federal terrorism and emergency response grants claims Kansas City International Airport is a hub for terrorist travel.
The Feb. 7 document prepared by Kansas City area emergency management officials as they sought the federal security grants was sent to the Department of Homeland Security to provide a "threat picture" for the Kansas City region, The Kansas City Star reported. The newspaper obtained the report as part of a Missouri Sunshine Law request.
"According to Transportation Security Administration data, Kansas City International Airport is ranked fourth out of 57 Category I airports in the U.S. for TSC encounters," the report said. TSC refers to the Terrorist Screening Center, which has a database of people who are known or suspected of being involved in terrorist activity. A Category I airport is a medium-sized hub. The report did not provide details on the statistics.
"This makes KCI a primary hub for KST (Known or Suspected Terrorist) travel," the report said.
Kansas City Police Capt. Daniel Gates, director of the Kansas City Terrorism Early Warning Group, said he sent the report to the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency to be used to help evaluate the region's terrorism risk. Gates said the report should not create fear among Kansas City travelers.
"If it were something that were going to impact our area, or was an issue for the safety of the region, we would get the information out," he said.
Gates said the figures that led to ranking Kansas City International Airport as a primary hub for terrorists came from the TSA. It referred questions to the FBI, which provided no numbers.
FBI area spokeswoman Bridget Patton said the level of "known or suspected terrorist" encounters that the report said were occurring at KCI shouldn't be alarming.
"I don't think it should be a concern to the community," Patton said. "But if anything, hey, it means they're on the job there — they're catching whoever they're supposed to catch or looking at whoever they're supposed to look at."
Mayer Nudell, an independent terrorism and security expert and an adjunct professor of security management at St. Louis-based Webster University, said the report could have been amped up a bit to win a federal grant to fight terrorism.
"It's sounding like a whole bunch of stuff that somebody creatively and successfully put together as a justification for getting this grant out of FEMA," Nudell said.
"My reading of all this is that Kansas City has very little to distinguish itself as being under a threat that is any different than the rest of the country," he said.