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US to begin profiling air passengers

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-04-02

US authorities are expected to announce an overhaul of security measures for US-bound passengers on Friday, ditching passenger-screening for specific countries to focus instead on the use of intelligence information to identify potential terrorists.

AFP -  Washington will announce Friday new airline security measures for US-bound passengers that scraps screening for specific countries to focus on profiles of potential terrorists, US media said.

The new approach replaces the mandatory enhanced screening of all passengers travelling to the United States from 14 nations, most of which are Muslim, which was imposed following a young Nigerian's failed Christmas Day Al-Qaeda plot to blow up an airplane travelling to Detroit from Amsterdam.

The announcement to be made by the Department of Homeland Security follows a three-month review of security protocols since the botched bombing attempt, said The New York Times, citing senior administration officials.

The new measures to begin this month involve travellers' personal characteristics matching intelligence on potential attackers.

Even US citizens travelling to the United States will be subject to special screening if they match certain profiles.

"It's much more tailored to what intelligence is telling us and what the threat is telling us, as opposed to stopping all individuals from a particular nationality or all individuals using a particular passport," said the unnamed official, quoted by the Times said.

The current "no-fly" list was to remain in place under the new procedures, but supplemented by cross-referenced information that may see passengers subject to further screening even if their names are not flagged, the Wall Street Journal said.

Characteristics such as nationality, age, recently visited countries, and partial names will be used alongside the "no-fly" list, the Journal said.

The system aims to avoid the intelligence failures that led to the alleged Christmas Day bomber, Nigeria's Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, boarding the US-bound flight from Amsterdam wearing underpants rigged with explosives, even though US intelligence had been alerted to information on him.

The Obama administration has also pledged to speed up the installation of full body scanners at US airports and to increase funding for federal air marshals on flights deemed most at risk.

Date created : 2010-04-02

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