Experts have warned that passenger profiling will prove ineffective in the war on terror, as will body scanners - they may not detect liquid & powder explosives
Plans to profile passengers at airports will prove as ineffective as the new body scanners in combatting terrorism, experts have warned. The Quilliam Foundation, Britain’s leading counter-extremism think tank, says that profiling would also damage existing counter-terrorism efforts.
Last night they published a dossier highlighting the wide range of ethnicities, ages and genders of al-Qaeda inspired terrorists since 9/11. Cases include:
• Shoe bomber Richard Reid, son of an English mother and Jamaican father, who tried to blow up a Miami-bound American Airlines flight in December 2001.
• Muriel Degauque, a white Belgian woman, who killed eight in a suicide bombing at an army recruitment centre in Talafar, northern Iraq, in September 2005.
• Samira Ahmed Jassim, a 50-year-old woman who ran a network that recruited and trained more than 80 female suicide bombers, arrested in Iraq last January.
• Up to 1,500 boys – some as young as 11 – were rescued from a Taleban training camp in Pakistan in July.
A “battle of ideas” would also be needed, added Quilliam. On body scanners, which at the weekend the Prime Minister announced would be fast-tracked into Britain’s main airports, leading security experts have been quick to point out the flaws in the technology.
Conservative MP Ben Wallace, a former researcher at QinetiQ, the defence company which developed the scanners, told the BBC that it was “unlikely” they would have picked up the current liquid and powder-based explosive devices being used by al-Qaeda.
And last night’s Newsnight revealed that the scanners – hundreds of which would be needed at a cost of £100,000 each – would be “useless” at detecting body bombs, of the type used by al-Qaeda operative Abdullah Hasan Tali al-Asiri in an assasination attempt on Saudi Minister for Counter Terrorism Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in August.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.