Profiling and body scanners mere placebos in fight against terrorism

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.

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