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US intensifies air screening

world Updated: Jan 14, 2010 00:00 IST
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All travellers flying to the United States from all other countries will face increased random screening, and all passengers from 14 terrorism-prone nations will be patted down and have their carry-on bags searched, under new rules the Obama administration said will take effect on Monday morning.

The changes greatly beef up screening standards for all U.S.-bound travellers and are in response to the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day.

The Nigerian man suspected in the attack boarded an Amsterdam flight headed to Detroit. But in keeping with previous protocols, he and other passengers were screened by a magnetometre, which did not detect the explosives he was allegedly carrying in his underwear.

The Transportation Security Administration notified airline carriers on Sunday of the changes for all flights entering the United States — with an emphasis on a “full body pat-down and physical inspection of property” for all people who are citizens of or are flying through or from nations with significant terrorist activity.

TSA officials declined to name all the “countries of interest” on Sunday, but confirmed that the directive applies to the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

The department’s website lists Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism.

A senior administration official identified the following as terrorism-prone nations or countries of interest to U.S. intelligence agencies: Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

“Today, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued new security directives to all United States and international air carriers with inbound flights to the U.S. effective January 4, 2010,” TSA spokesman Greg Soule said.

“The new directive includes long-term sustainable security measures developed in consultation with law enforcement officials and our domestic and international partners.”

In practice, a person with a Yemeni passport or a passenger flying through or from Yemen would be subjected to a body inspection or scan.

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