Tougher air checks for SOME travellers: Britain could follow U.S. lead over 'terror' nationsBy Daniel Martin and David Gardner
Last updated at 7:22 AM on 05th January 2010
Extra airport security checks may be focused on travellers from Muslim countries which have been deemed more prone to terrorism.
These passengers could be subjected to special pat-down searches and more thorough luggage checks.
The controversial targeting - which critics say amounts to discrimination - was brought in yesterday in the U.S. as part of stepped-up security following the failed plan to blow up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day.
Security threat: An officer searches a passenger at the international departure lounge of Benazir Bhutto Airport in Islamabad, Pakistan
Airline passengers in Pakistan heading to the U.S. met increased security screening following requests from the States for stricter checks
Last night, civil liberties groups warned that such passenger profiling could radicalise more Muslims.
Before yesterday's U.S. move, only Israel openly used such a system.
Now all air travellers from 14 countries will have to go through extra searches at boarding gates before being allowed on to American-bound flights.
A Transportation Security Administration officer views a full-body scan during a demonstration of passenger screening technology
Passengers from Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Yemen will also be affected, as will people travelling from or passing through any of those countries.
Whitehall is now under pressure from airports to follow suit.
Passengers wait as a U.S. TSA officer checks the travel documents of passengers at Los Angeles International Airport
But Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil liberties group Liberty, said: 'Has no one noticed the terrorists' ability to capitalise on discrimination, or the recruits from a range of backgrounds?
'Suspicious behaviour is a sensible basis for search by policing professionals - race or religion is not.'
The International Air Transport Association, an umbrella group representing 230 airlines, welcomed the U.S. changes as 'definitely a step in the right direction'.
X-ray: The scanners will be installed at every major airport in the country within weeks
But Nawar Shora, legal director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, warned: 'This is extreme and very dangerous.'
'The UK already has one of the strictest aviation security regimes in the world and we will continue to consider carefully what additional measures are required in response to this latest incident.'
Lord Adonis said at the weekend that among the security measures being considered were for all passengers to face two body searches, with the second taking place at the gate just before boarding.
All transit and transfer passengers passing through Britain would be screened and have their hand luggage checked for traces of explosives before being allowed on their flights.
The Transport Secretary is also looking at copying the U.S ban on passengers leaving their seats for the final hour before landing.
Passengers on a BA flight to London had to disembark and go through security a second time in Abu Dhabi yesterday after a woman told the captain a security man had been talking on his mobile rather than watching his screen.
Fanatics killed in YemenTwo Al Qaeda militants were killed by security forces in Yemen yesterday.
Yemeni officials said the militants were behind a terrorist threat which has forced the British, U.S. and other European embassies to shut as concerns grow about the country's stability.
'Security authorities had been monitoring them for several days and struck today,' a Yemeni official said. 'These elements are believed to be behind the threats directed to the embassies.'
The raid took place near the capital, San'a, after the attempted bombing of a U.S.-bound plane on Christmas Day thrust Yemen into the foreground of the struggle against Islamic militants.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemen branch of Osama bin Laden's network, claimed responsibility for the attempt to blow up the Detroit-bound plane.
The British and U.S. embassies in San'a stayed shut for a second day in response to what they said were Al Qaeda threats.
There has also been civil unrest in the country in the past two days.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday that the situation in Yemen was a threat to both regional and global stability.