Talal Rajab: Profiling air passengers could make terrorist attacks easier

Share
Related Topics

Since the attempted bomb attack on an airliner bound for Detroit, there have been calls to profile passengers according to age, ethnicity, gender or geography as part of British airport security policy. This coincides with the US announcement that passengers from or travelling through 14 countries will face increased security checks. Such profiling is ineffective and may actually make terrorist attacks easier.

Islam is not ethnically or geographically centred – nor is terrorism. This, coupled with the fact that a large number of converts have been involved in terrorist plots, makes profiling according to religion impossible. Previous terrorism cases have shown why profiling on the basis of race, gender, age or location can often be ineffective:

1. Geography: Terrorists who have attacked US airliners, including Richard Reid and the 9/11 hijackers, have been from or based in European countries. Recent arrests in the US and Canada have shown that the US faces a very real threat from radicalisation at home and in its nearest neighbour. None of these countries is on the US list.

2. Race: Muriel Degauque, a Belgian citizen of European origin, was the first female European suicide bomber in Iraq in 2005. Profiling would have failed to identify Andrew Ibrahim and Nicky Reilly, both of whom converted to Islam before going on to plot terrorist attacks.

3. Gender: Female suicide bombers have been behind many of the most lethal attacks in Iraq and Israel.

4. Age: Fifty-year-old Samira Ahmed Jassim, who was arrested in Iraq in 2009, has admitted to running a network which recruited and trained female suicide bombers. Also in 2009, the Pakistani army announced that it had discovered a Taliban-run school in which boys as young as nine were being trained to carry out suicide bombings.

Profiling also risks alienating Muslims who are visibly devout but who reject the ideologies that lie behind terrorism. Distrust between visibly devout Muslims and the government risks endangering cooperative efforts to combat Islamist extremism and root out violent extremists.

Security measures must be proactive, not reactive. If security measures are to remain one step ahead of terrorists then profiling should be avoided.



Talal Rajab is a trainer at Quilliam, the counter-extremism think tank

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul falls: Talk of Iraq retaking the town, held by IS since June, is unconvincing  

Isis on the run? The US portrayal is very far from the truth

Patrick Cockburn
Ed Miliband:  

Ed Miliband: I pledge to make Britain a more just and equal country

Ed Miliband
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk