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

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

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Michael Brown was shot and killed by police in August  

Ferguson: The sad truth is that Michael Brown was killed because he was a black man

Bonnie Greer
A protestor poses for a  

Ferguson verdict: This isn't a 'tragedy'. This is part of a long-running genocide of black men in America

Otamere Guobadia
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital