Confusion reigns as US security is stepped up

Black-listed nations accuse US of knee-jerk racism over imposition of tighter measures to combat terrorism

The world reacted with a mixture of confusion and hostility yesterday to new US rules saying that people who come from any of the 14 nations on a "black list" of countries alleged to be hotbeds of terrorism must now undergo intense security screening at airports across the world.

The measures, announced late Sunday night and which took effect yesterday, mean citizens of the designated countries will be pulled aside for pat-downs and extra hand-baggage searches, no matter where they are travelling from. Their luggage and clothing will be checked for traces of explosive and they will be required to pass through controversial full-body screeners at airports equipped with the machines.

The rules also affect all passengers on flights originating in or passing through the 14 countries. Every passenger on board those planes, no matter what their nationality, will be singled out for the extra screening.

The blacklist includes the four countries America considers to be "state sponsors of terrorism" – Iran, Syria and Sudan – plus its old Cold War sparring partner, Cuba. There are then another 10 alleged "countries of interest" – Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Iraq.

Citizens of those nations already require a visa to travel to the US, and some governments are unhappy at being singled out. Nigeria, for example, described their black-listing as an "unfair" knee-jerk reaction to the fact that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the man arrested for the failed Christmas Day bombing, was one of its citizens.

"[His] behaviour is not reflective of Nigeria and should therefore not be used as a yardstick to judge all Nigerians," said the country's information minister Dora Akunyili. "It's unfair to discriminate against over 150 million people because of the behaviour of one person."

The minister added that Abdulmutallab was radicalised in the UK, and had to travel to Yemen to be shown how to secrete plastic explosives in his underpants. "He was not influenced in Nigeria, he was not recruited or trained in Nigeria, he was not supported whatsoever in Nigeria," she told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which are also new additions to the list of "countries of interest," also regard the inclusion as a public insult.

Civil liberties campaigners are concerned that the new rules are tantamount to racial profiling. A British resident who happens to carry a Pakistani passport will now be exhaustively searched every time he or she flies to the US, while fellow passengers undergo only standard screening.

And opinion varies as to whether the new measures will actually make flights safer. Many experts say that there is scant evidence that they would have prevented the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 over Detroit.

So-called "millimetre wave" technology used in full-body scanning machines struggles to detect small amounts of low density materials, such as explosive powder. The Independent on Sunday revealed this week that both the Department for Transport and the Home Office were unconvinced that the machines work.

Airport authorities are also unsure what the US rules are meant to mean. An official for the Department of Transport, which oversees security at UK airports, told the Press Association yesterday that they were still trying to decipher their practical implications.

Race-relations campaigners meanwhile intend to file a formal complaint against the new rules. "I understand there needs to be additional security in light of what was attempted on Christmas Day," Nawar Shora, the legal director at the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, told the New York Times. "But this is extreme and very dangerous. All of a sudden people are labelled as being related to terrorism just because of the nation they are from."



*British intelligence that the Detroit bomb plot suspect tried to contact radical Islamists while he was a student in London was passed on to US officials, Downing Street has insisted. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's name was in a dossier, shared with US intelligence agencies, of people believed to have approached extremists. But he was not singled out as a particular risk, a No 10 spokesman said, insisting that Abdulmutallab did not become radicalised until after he left the UK in October 2008. Barack Obama has criticised the FBI and CIA for failing to piece together information about the 23-year-old Nigerian that should have stopped him boarding the jet.

Suggested Topics
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

1st line call logger/ User access administrator

£9 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Warrington a...

Shine Night Walk 2014 - 'On the night' volunteer roles

Unpaid Voluntary Work : Cancer Research UK: We need motivational volunteers to...

Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable & Accounts Receivable)

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Accounts Assistant (Accounts Payable...

Senior IT Trainer - Buckinghamshire - £250 - £350 p/d

£200 - £300 per day: Ashdown Group: IT Trainer - Marlow, Buckinghamshire - £25...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star