Travellers catching U.S. bound flights from more than a dozen countries now face increased security screenings following new rules issued by the Obama administration on Sunday.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration that individuals flying into the U.S. from or through nations which are “state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest” would be required to go through enhanced screening.
The move follows the recent failed Christmas Day attack on a Detroit-bound flight by a Nigerian man.
While the TSA did not single out any countries, it does list on its website Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism.
The Washington Post reported that Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen had been confirmed by a senior administration official as terrorism-prone nations or countries of interest to U.S. intelligence agencies.
Since yesterday, travellers with passports from those ‘terror-prone’ nations or travelling from them have had to undergo enhanced screening technologies, a full-body pat down and have their carry-on bags searched before boarding their international flights into the U.S.
Travellers will also have to go through full body scanners if they are departing from countries that have the equipment.
The new rules, which the TSA says contributes to “effective aviation security”, have sparked debate from both sides of the fence about profiling.
The Civil rights group American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee legal director Nawar Shora told the Examiner that the new rule unfairly cast suspicion on all citizens of certain nations.
“I understand there needs to be additional security in light of what was attempted on Christmas Day” he said.
“But this is extreme and very dangerous. All of a sudden people are labeled as related to terrorism just because of the nation they are from”
Two days before the new rules took effect across the globe, a retired U.S. general appeared on Fox News Saturday supporting profiling.
Retired Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney said "very serious, harsh profiling" was necessary and singled out all 18-28 year old Muslim men to be “strip searched” at airports.
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.L