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January 4, 2010

Muslim objections to new flight security measures

The Council on American-Islamic Relations is objecting to new measures announced by the Transportation Security Administration over the weekend that focus on flights from 13 Muslim-majority countries.

The move follows the attempt by a Muslim from Nigeria to blow up an airliner from Amsterdam as it landed in Detroit on Christmas Day.

The 14 nations on the list include four designated by the State Department as state sponsors of terrorism – Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria – and 10 additional “countries of interest:” Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen. Travelers from these countries will face automatic pat-downs and baggage searches before they are allowed to board a flight to the United States.

In a release on Monday, CAIR said the list discriminates unfairly against Muslims.

“Under these new guidelines, almost every American Muslim who travels to see family or friends or goes on pilgrimage to Mecca will automatically be singled out for special security checks -– that’s profiling,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement. “While singling out travelers based on religion and national origin may make some people feel safer, it only serves to alienate and stigmatize Muslims and does nothing to improve airline security.”

“We all support effective security measures that will protect the travelling public from an attack such as that attempted on Christmas Day. But knee-jerk policies will not address this serious challenge to public safety.”

Awad suggested alternatives to what CAIR called “faith-based security checks:"

“First look at behavior, not at faith or skin color," he said. "Then spend what it takes to obtain more bomb-sniffing dogs, to install more sophisticated bomb-detection equipment and to train security personnel in identifying the behavior of real terror suspects.”

CAIR cited an editorial published by the generally conservative San Diego Union-Tribune:

It’s wrong to single out whole groups of people based on some arbitrary characteristic. For instance, just because a majority of terror suspects arrested or killed by U.S. officials since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were Muslim males, it does not logically follow that all or most Muslim males are terrorists.

But aside from the moral objections, as we’ve seen, profiling by characteristic isn’t very efficient. The minute U.S. officials put out the word that they’re not scrutinizing people with blond hair and blue eyes is the minute that al-Qaida starts recruiting people with blond hair and blue eyes. Would looking for Arab-Americans have turned up a passenger that resembled “American Taliban” fighter John Walker Lindh? Would applying extra scrutiny to people with foreign-sounding names have kept would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid off a plane?

Of course not. We’d prefer a counterterrorism policy that is more benign and yet arguably more effective – profiling passengers based on behavior. That used to be called being vigilant, and adding up clues when suspicions were raised about particular individuals because of what they do and not how they look or what religion they practice.

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 3:43 PM | | Comments (39)


profiling by characteristics or behavior DOES work - take a look at El Al's record on terrorism. It just does NOT happen. They use profiling, have encouraged the US to do so, and they have continued to be successful doing so.
That's not to say that is will always be right, but it certainly works better than sticking with random security checks in an airport line.

Tell me again the last time an american blew up a plane full of people getting ready to land in a muslim country?

Everyone should have to go through the wave meter techno strip search machines. And if you don't like being seen naked, go to the gym.

Just about every suicide bomber in history has been a radical Muslim. if the Muslims don't like the new security measures,perhaps they should do a better job keeping their radicals in line. or better yet,don't fly to America.

Well, gee.......if Islamo-fascists would stop hijacking planes, we wouldn't have to do this. They shouldn't be allowed on ANY plane until they have been strip searched and cavity searched, while all non-Muslims are allowed to proceed to the plane.

Notice how all the complainers never complain about the terrorists....they only complain about losing their 'rights.'

I feel the whole community of Muslims should be checked, that is better than one radical getting in and killing or wounding everyday people. You may not like what I say but I do not feel for the muslim society since they are killing/wounding our people it is too bad if we do the same for them if they would stand up as a community and get rid of the radicals then I could feel different about them I still suport the decision of our ex president George Bush to take on this task to rid us of these people no one likes war but this has to be done and completed to keep it from happening again

Muslim Objections? MUSLIM OBJECTIONS? If there is one ethnic group perpetrating a particular crime, then you look for those people; Muslim, white, black, green, look for them and you will generally find the wrongdoers. End of story.

If there was a crime wave committed by 7ft. tall red headed white men with one arm I would expect the authorities to stop all 7ft. tall red headed white men with one arm while continuing to investigate others. I agree with the other comment that the USA should follow the successful methods of El Al.

I am so surprised that CAIR is unhappy with this decision.

You should all read "Muslim Mafia" mostly about CAIR.

CAIR is also the one who tried to get Michael Savage off the radio and sepnt over $100,000 attorney costs and failed.


"...or better yet,don't fly to America." says Paul. They can keep away from the UK too says I, although I don't mind them flying out!

God help us

The radical muslims are the ones who dont like the rules for that i say too bad. It might be profiling if this measure keeps planes of innocent people from getting blown up. How would the muslim community like the united states military to start targeting mosques which hide muslim terrorists. Just like the army major who went crazy in Fort Hood Texas , there are more like him in our military , THEY are called sleepers .

If we did what Israel's El Al does, the Muslims would be mad as hell. El Al has NEVER had a terrorist board one of their planes. Enough said.

Profiling? Deal with it. There's a reason Israeli airlines are so safe.

Even though those countries are primarily Muslim it's important to note that not everyone in those countries is a Muslim. So actually Muslims who protest new security measures are racially profiling themselves, if they think only Muslims will be pat-down they are wrong.

BTW, if it is such a big deal to protect Muslim dignity then perhaps it would be better if air travel from those countries were handled by a Muslim-only airline. If they had the initiative to start one of their own then we could see what kind of security measures they would institute.

One other item, as long as Muslims continue to disrespectfully address non-Muslims as Infidels then they are acting speaking terrorists! Lose the rhetoric and perhaps Muslims might be accepted in mixed society.

Pretty hard to argue with this. I'm as liberal lefty pink-eye bleeding heart as they come, but NOT PROFILING would be a huge waste of time, money and a HUGE risk to security. Muslims, Middle Easterners, etc - if you don't like the inconvenience (and that's all it really is) - then HANDLE THE F'N TERRORISTS IN YOUR COUNTRIES of origin. You have a right to complain about US and Israeli foreign policies - but stop BLOWING UP THEIR INNOCENT CITIZENS. It's not an effective way to make your point.

Profiling works, and it's not racist.

How is this profiling if EVERY passenger leaving these countries will be subject to these new security procedures? The countries themselves are demonstrated risks, so including them on the list of "countries of interest" or "countries sponsoring terrorism" is not profiling either -- it's common sense.
Given the fact (and it is a fact) that the Muslim faith is hostile to all non-Muslims, I think those practicing that particular faith should be glad they haven't been asked to leave the US en masse. Tolerance is the wrong policy in this instance.

Unfairly discriminates against muslims? Actually I think it is quite fair to discriminate against muslims. They've earned it.

There has come a time in this country where a persons personal liberties/constitutional rights MUST give way to national security. The framers of our constitution obviously could not have anticipated what is going on n the world today. It is absolutely vital that these steps be taken. If you are offended, DON'T FLY OR USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION!

If it walk's like a duck, look's like a duck and quack's like a duck, it's a duck.It's a privelege to be an American whether you were born here or not.Unfortunately in today's world,everyone is suspect.If you're a Muslim disturbed by "profiling", and you have nothing to hide,deal with it. If you're a Muslim who respect's your fellow man than use your passion to fight and abolish terrorism in the country from where you came.

I am so glad to see that majority of American people have common sense.

Let's make a deal...

Cease terroristic acts and we can cease the security precautions. Thanks.

Compare to the comments on this Al Jazeera page by and " an American"

Is this what Obama meant by reaching out to the Muslim world?

When there is a chance you won't get home from your flight due to the potential presence of a bomb I think its time to get serious. I don't care what sect it is that is upset. If they don' like it here let them go back to their country of origin.


Does anyone see that we are increasingly becoming less of a Free Society with Government intrusion in every facet of our lives.

The terrorists are winning and its not by killing people. Its by killing what makes this country great.


The failure is with our current screening system and the people/government operating it. Whats next ?? Strip searches to get on a fricking plane because of some other Government screw-up ???

If you are Muslim, you are either a collaborator or a sympathizer.

Getting on a plane is privilege; given that members of CAIR have advocated overthrowing the US government, have raised money for terrorists and have proclaimed a goal of setting up an Islamic state in the US, Mr. Awad is a solid candidate for being the first to have that privilege permanently revoked.

Mr. Awad's group was an unindicted co-conspirator in a terror trial in Texas and CAIR should rightly be seen as a front group for the radical Muslim Brotherhood. Many CAIR officials have gone to prison for terror offenses, they have less than 10,000 actual members in the US and get most of their funding from overseas.

Mr. Awad should be less concerned about profiling and more concerned about how stigmatized US Muslims will feel if the next attack actually succeeds.

No one likes all the BS we have to go through since 911. But, given the circumstances and the amazing willingness for the Muslim community to sacrifice themselves in the name of Allah, it is necessary. I know nothing of Allah; but I find it difficult to believe that Allah would fail to see how disruptive terrorist activities are to the "harmony" supposedly associated with one's god/allah, whatever. Muslim leaders have to see that thefirst step to harmony is to make it less attractive to blow one's self to bits. Chances are Allah is a tired of putting theses terrorists back together when their souls arrive piecemeal. And the awaiting virgins must wonder what's going on down here.

if it smells like a duck, looks like a duck and explodes like a duck....

Two simple, low tech/low cost strats for airport screening. 1. Just use dogs. Never mind profiling. Dogs can smell "fear" as well as other odours emanating from a human. The dog would alert their handler that there's something here you should investigate.

2. We read in the history of Mohamet, that he offered his tribal fighters drugs, such as hashish, to make their task killing task easier to do. Checking for "Khat chewers" at airports could be a cheap, effective airport screening strategy.

Remember, profile behaviour -- fear, and khat-chewing-to-elicit-a-euphoric- state, are two observable, perceptual behaviours all westerners can be on the look out for.

Posted by: JayBee
Profiling? Deal with it. There's a reason Israeli airlines are so safe.

The above post is dead on. I am sorry that innocent Muslim people will be profiled, though for the sake of protecting man, woman, child, black, white, brown, red, yellow, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, and all others, this type of profiling is neccesary; due to recent history. When this obvious pattern change, then the profiling will change.

In the words of the late Rodney King, "Can we all just get along?" Can we or will we destroy one another?

"ACTUALLY, profiling by characteristics or behavior DOES work - take a look at El Al's record on terrorism. It just does NOT happen. They use profiling, have encouraged the US to do so, and they have continued to be successful doing so.
That's not to say that is will always be right, but it certainly works better than sticking with random security checks in an airport line."

No, profiling by behaviors does not work, and there are a lot of people like myself, who have social anxiety disorder, who are 'fidgety' in public and shie away from human contact because of that, not because we are terrorist wannabe's.

Et Al is not a good example. I've talked to some people who have used that airline, and they have said that while it APPEARS that they are 'safer', the inconvience to people who are not pre-screened and pre-cleared is NOT WORK IT!

It's time to realize that yes, profiling of Muslims should be done... but NOT in the damned airports themselves, but in the offices of the FBI when they are doing the 'background checks' of Muslim people, who then SHOULD get looked at more because most terrorists, unfortunately thus far, are Muslims.

It should not be done in the airports, period, done with, over..... it should be done when they are making up that 'person of interest' list that the TSA and FBI make.

My comment on this story? So what.
Just as the Christians invaded every known civilization to spread their word, so it's flowing back this way. The Ottoman Empire is bringing back the book or the sword mentality, sharia law in every city.
Hell, I'll fly naked with a paper bag over my head to stay alive. If they don't like it, they can build an ark. What a whiny bunch!

Abresh said: "Et Al is not a good example. I've talked to some people who have used that airline, and they have said that while it APPEARS that they are 'safer', the inconvience to people who are not pre-screened and pre-cleared is NOT WORK IT!"

I fly El Al all the time. Let me tell you, Abresh, that you are absolutely WRONG.

There is no doubt in my mind that El Al's profiling works. And no matter how inconvenient it might be, it's well worth the security of knowing that there is virtually no chance of a terror incident on the flight I am taking.

Somehow, El Al still manages to get their flights off on time. So what if I have to get to the airport an hour earlier? I go into my travel with the knowledge that my airport stay will be 3 hours. Is that such an inconvenience?!

There are many issues with El Al. (The flight attendants are occasionally rude. The food is pretty terrible. The seats are uncomfortable and packed too tightly. The tickets are often more expensive because of the added security.) Profiling and the corresponding "inconvenience" is not one of them.

And you know what? Despite all of those problems, I'd still rather fly El Al and be safe than take my chances with any other airline.

It reminds me of the Nigerian scammer who tried to get money out of me online. When I told him where to go in so many words, he told me that I shouldnt talk like that and that I should treat people more fairly. Perhaps Muslims should spend more time encouraging their own to stop killing innocent people instead of complaining that they are being discriminated against.

This reminds me of the old adage, "You can attract a lot more flies with honey than you can with vinegar!" If CAIR wants to eventually turn every other ethnic, political and religious group on this planet against "their cause", then keep it up. The negative rhetoric and constant attack mode has got to go.

ALL OF US are being discriminated against in one form or another! I was put through one of the new "x-ray vision" scanners at BWI (one of the test airports.) Did I LOVE knowing that some stranger was sitting somewhere in the airport looking at me "naked' for contraband? OF COURSE NOT! It is what our security system has had to adopt because people keep trying to smuggle "stuff" on airplanes. Live with it. It is going to be the way of life if you want to fly. If it violates your beliefs, don't fly, take a boat, or a train or whatever, and get on a plane in Cuba, Mexico or Canada, etc., and see what is in store for you there. If you have nothing to hide in the first place, why make such a big stink? And please, don't play the "on principle" card; it is way too late for that.

I also think that anyone wishing to enter the United States from a country on the watch lists should expect that it will take longer to clear him/her. To act like this is discriminatory is ridiculous. There is a global war on terrorism going on RIGHT NOW, and, as the old saying goes, "if you're not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem."

David Coleman Headley--possible perpetrator of the Mumbai massacre, Lashkar e Taiba honorary member, looks white, quacks white and walks white--wanted to blow up nuclear installations in India--wanted to kill the infamous Danish cartoonist--is actually half whitteand half Pakistani--has a white man's name and a Muslim name--uses his Western name. Richard Reid--shoe bomber, looks white, quacks white and shits white--if such a thing is possible. Was a rabid terrorist and wanted to blow up planes for the Islamic terrorist cause--they have Western names and they come out of the wood works, to fight for al Qaeda--these Western born, phenotypically white, half Muslim, half Christian or whatever terrorists. Cannot profile by name--then we will miss the Richard Reids and the David Coleman Headleys and cannot profile by religion--these guys can pass for any religion--we must profile by behavior--one way tickets, furtiveness and hyperanxiety, no baggage--all red flags-- and careful compilation of no fly lists. Muslims will sue after the storm in the tea cup passes and the American justice system, a system fairer than any in the world, with maverick judges, will side with the Muslims when they complain vociferously that their civil rights have been trampled. People will back off then. Has happened in the past too many times not to take notice
Ravensfan Anon

What I'm wondering is, where is the "Christian" argument against these scanners? Aren't Christians supposed to be against pornography? Isn't it a shame and a sin to be naked? I am not a Moslem, but I am opposed to nakedness of every kind, including this form of "virtual" nakedness.

The Christian argument? Here's one. I would rather have my friends and relatives be seen nude than to see them in pieces.

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About Matthew Hay Brown
Matthew Hay Brown writes and blogs about faith and values in public and private life for The Baltimore Sun. A former Washington correspondent for the newspaper, he has long written about the intersection of religion and politics. He has reported from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, traveling most recently to Syria and Jordan to write about the Iraqi refugee crisis.

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