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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12 Responses to “Profiling and body scanners mere placebos in fight against terrorism”

  1. Rory

    On body-scanners I completely agree. It is a gross invasion of privacy – by the state – and will certainly be used for the wrong purposes. On profiling I am not sure.

  2. Shamik Das

    RT @leftfootfwd: Passenger profiling and body scanners are not the answer in the fight against terrorism: http://is.gd/5MWHi

  3. Jonathan Taylor

    RT @leftfootfwd: Passenger profiling and body scanners are not the answer in the fight against terrorism: http://is.gd/5MWHi reports @sh …

  4. Maureen

    RT @leftfootfwd: Passenger profiling and body scanners are not the answer in the fight against terrorism: http://is.gd/5MWHi reports @sh …

  5. Mark

    Terrorists will always look to circumvent these things. Introduce scanners and they’ll use things that can’t be scanned. Use profiling (I suspect it’s already being used) and they’ll eventually use a white granny. Make air travel too difficult and they’ll target a crowded railway station, a sports stadium.

    Sadly the threat of a suicide bomber remains ever present. Classic intelligence is essential and even if these bombs were to explode, remember you are far more likely to die in a road accident or house fire.

  6. Sam Hunt

    News Update: Profiling and body scanners mere placebos in fight against terrororism http://ow.ly/16gW8O

  7. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by leftfootfwd: Passenger profiling and body scanners are not the answer in the fight against terrorism: http://is.gd/5MWHi reports @shamikdas…

  8. alexf10

    RT @proactivedefend: Profiling and body scanners mere placebos in fight against terrororism http://ow.ly/16gW8O

  9. alex knorr

    RT @proactivedefend: Profiling and body scanners mere placebos in fight against terrororism http://ow.ly/16gW8O

  10. alllowercase

    Hi Shamik,

    No of course body scanners and profiling aren’t the full answer, but I don’t think anyone is suggesting that they are.

    Protective security measures to plug specific vulnerabilities are in fact a good thing if you want to stop more bombs going off. It’s absolutely true to say that there is always a risk of displacement and that terrorists and criminals will always move onto the next target. But it is _slightly_ absurd to argue that when we have a specific vulnerability that has already been exploited by terrorists and we have a specific protective security measure that may help to plug it, that we shouldn’t do so.

    And of course ‘profiling’ is not as crude as targeting Muslims for special attention – those who suggest it are being either mischievous or worse. (I’m looking at you Anjem Choudry). Profiling is about applying specific rules to a set of data in order to reduce the size of the haystack (to make the needle easier to find) and/or to have a deterrent effect. What matters is the content of the rules, not the profiling itself.

    alllowercase

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