Britain to Profile Airline Passengers?

The Times Online reports that the British government is considering a new airline security process that could mean additional security checks for Muslims:

The Government is discussing with airport operators plans to introduce a screening system that allows security staff to focus on those passengers who pose the greatest risk.

The passenger-profiling technique involves selecting people who are behaving suspiciously, have an unusual travel pattern or, most controversially, have a certain ethnic or religious background.

The system would be much more sophisticated than simply picking out young men of Asian appearance. But it would cause outrage in the Muslim community because its members would be far more likely to be selected for extra checks.

Officials at the Department for Transport (DfT) have discussed the practicalities of introducing such a system with airport operators, including BAA. They believe that it would be more effective at identifying potential terrorists than the existing random searches.

[snip]

The DfT has been considering passenger profiling for a year but, until last week, the disadvantages were thought to outweigh the advantages. A senior aviation industry source said: “The DfT is ultra-sensitive about this and won’t say anything publicly because of political concerns about being accused of racial stereotyping.”

Three days before last week’s arrests, the highest-ranking Muslim police officer in Britain gave warning that profiling techniques based on physical appearance were already causing anger and mistrust among young Muslims. Tarique Ghaffur, an assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said: “We must think long and hard about the causal factors of anger and resentment.

“There is a very real danger that the counter-terrorism label is also being used by other law-enforcement agencies to the effect that there is a real risk of criminalising minority communities.”

Sir Rod Eddington, former chief executive of British Airways, criticised the random nature of security searches. He said that it was irrational to subject a 75-year-old grandmother to the same checks as a 25-year-old man who had just paid for his ticket with cash.

I would love to see not only Britain implement an airline security plan like this, but America too. The random security checks that take place now may make the government look like it’s being fair but they do nothing to stop terrorists.

But will Britain actually implement this program? The Brits have a history of appeasing their very large Muslim community, which will surely go apoplectic at the concept of being profiled. The Muslim leaders will protest and warn British leaders that this program will create more terrorists instead of fight terrorists, thus attempting to blackmail the government into continuing its appeasement.

Dan Riehl makes a great point:

It appears Britain is talking about implementing such a screening technique. It’s about time. If moderate Muslims won’t stand up more forcefully against their more radical and dangerous counterparts, then let them feel some heat.

Sane Muslims can have a far greater impact in combating Islamo-fascists than any other particular group. To date, they absolutely have not done their part. It’s time to start giving them incentive, along with sending them the message that we will not ignore the source of much of the worlds terrorism.

Update: Mary Katharine has the best line in response to Britain’s realization that it would probably be a good idea to try to identify people who pose a threat.

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5 Comments

  1. sanssoucy August 15, 2006
  2. John Burgess August 15, 2006
  3. Parker August 15, 2006
  4. jack oneil August 15, 2006
  5. sanssoucy August 15, 2006