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Jet-skier breaches JFK security

Security experts have been left reeling after a man swam ashore, scaled a fence and walked, dripping wet, into Kennedy Airport, defying a 100 million-dollar (£64 million) network of surveillance cameras and motion detectors.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees JFK Airport, quickly added police patrols to the airport perimeter and said it was investigating the security breach.

"Thank God it wasn't a terrorist, but we have to look at it as if we had another attack," said Isaac Yeffet, former chief of security for Israeli airline El Al. "That's the only way we'll improve the system."

Authorities said the trouble began on Friday evening when 31-year-old Daniel Casillo's jet-ski ran out of fuel in Jamaica Bay. Casillo swam towards the bright lights of Kennedy's runway 4L, which juts out into the bay, then climbed an 8ft fence that is part of the airport's state-of-the-art Perimeter Intrusion Detection System, authorities said.

Soaking wet and wearing a bright yellow life jacket, Casillo made his way across two intersecting runways - an estimated distance of nearly two miles - before he was spotted on a terminal ramp by an airline employee, authorities said.

According to the police report, Casillo told an officer: "I needed help!"

Casillo was released without bail pending a court appearance on October 2. A man who answered the phone at the home of Casillo's girlfriend said the couple's lawyer had advised them to stop speaking to the media.

The intrusion-detection system, manufactured by defence contractor Raytheon, should have set off a series of warnings, said Bobby Egbert, spokesman for the port authority police officers union. "This system is made specifically for those types of threats - water-borne threats," he said. "It did not detect him climbing over a fence. It did not detect him crossing two active runways."

Port authority police interrogated Casillo and charged him with criminal trespassing. Authorities said the airport grounds were clearly marked with no-trespassing signs that indicate it is a "restricted area for authorised personnel only".

"We have called for an expedited review of the incident and a complete investigation to determine how Raytheon's perimeter intrusion detection system - which exceeds federal requirements - could be improved," the port authority said in a statement. The agency offered no explanation of what went wrong or whether it was human error or equipment failure.

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