hundred percent safety is an impossibility.
Terrorists, particularly if they're willing to give up their own lives, will
always have an edge over the security services. Risks can only be reduced - not eliminated. Total security in an open,
democratic society is an illusion."
Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the son of a former Nigerian minister and banker who
tried to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day, was already a suspect
before he boarded his flight in Lagos. A year and a half ago, he obtained a
visa at the American consulate in London. But in November, after a worrisome
tip from his own father, he was put on the Terrorist
Identities Datamart Environment, a list that
includes 550,000 names.
But that didn't mean
his access to Schiphol Airport or a U.S.-bound
aircraft should have been denied. The student from a well-to-do family, who by
his own admission is an operator for al-Qaeda in Yemen, wasn't on the “no-fly
list” of 4,000 potential terrorists. Nor was he among those on the list of
14,000 people subject to extra screening [aka/the "Selectee" list].
Partly as a
result if an undercover report by SBS
in which a fake bomb was smuggled onto an aircraft there, Schiphol
Airport doesn't exactly enjoy a superior reputation. Nevertheless, Abdul Mutallab's relatively low degree of suspicion is probably
why he wasn't stopped and arrested. The explosives he wore on his body would
have been found during a manual search, which perhaps would have been conducted
had his name been on one of the two smaller lists totaling 18,000 names.
Such gaps have
been known for some time. On his way from Paris to Miami eight years ago, in
late 2001, shoe-bomber Richard Reid carried the same explosive chemicals as Abdul
Muallab. At the time, airport security, which had
already been tightened significantly after 9/11, was made even tighter. For
example, passengers have to take off their shoes and aren’t allowed to take
fluids onboard. But that doesn’t guarantee seamless control, particularly if a person
plots to commit a terrorist act or behaves suspiciously, as was the case
yesterday on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.
has announced new security measures and ordered an investigation. The
Netherlands should follow his example, even if Schiphol
handled everything according to protocol. A probe could reveal outdated practices
and close procedural loopholes.
No less important
is the fact that such an investigation may shed light on the question of whether
the culprit was part of a network or operated on his own. The answer to that
question, a politically-charged one both in The Netherlands and the United
States, would offer some guidance in sizing-up the terrorist threat and identifying
the counter-measures necessary to keep it in check.
Posted by WORLDMEETS.US
percent safety is an impossibility. Terrorists, particularly if they're willing
to give up their own lives, will always have an edge over the security services.
Risks can only be reduced - not eliminated.
Total security in an open, democratic society is an illusion.
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