Monday, January 4, 2010



4 January 2010
Cape Town

Airline passengers who are citizens of, or fly through, five African nations will undergo more intensive security screening from today before being permitted to board flights to the United States.

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the new "enhanced screening" on Sunday.

According to Monday's editions of the New York Times and the Washington Post, the five African nations affected are Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan.

Nine other nations - most of them in Asia or the Middle East - are also covered by the TSA's directive, which applies to "nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest." Sudan is regarded by the U.S. as a "state sponsor of terrorism." The Washington Post named the other African countries affected as "countries of interest to U.S. intelligence agencies."

The Post also reported that in a directive to airlines on the tougher screening measure, the TSA had emphasized a "full body pat-down and physical inspection of property".

The TSA's public statement said the directive applies to "every individual flying into the U.S. from anywhere in the world travelling from or through" the affected countries.

The directive follows the arrest of a Nigerian for attempting to set off a bomb on an airliner flying from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.


It was issued as former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo made an appeal urging the international community not to judge all Nigerians by the actions of one person.

"Nigerians are law-abiding people and not terrorists," Vanguard newspaper reported him as saying.

"The young man's case should not be used as a standard to judge Nigerians or in fact, to criminalise all Nigerians... The fact that the boy committed a grave offence as a Nigerian does not say that all Nigerians are terrorists or criminals."

The TSA statement said its new directive "also increases the use of enhanced screening technologies and mandates threat-based and random screening for passengers on U.S.-bound international flights."

The New York Times reported that the extra scrutiny of passengers and their carry-on bags could include the use of "whole-body scanners" - which can examine people for explosives or weapons beneath their clothing - where they are available.

But the screening of Americans and citizens of nations not affected by Sunday's directive
could be relaxed. The Times reported that civil rights groups had protested the distinction made between passengers on the basis of their country of origin.

It quoted Nawar Shora of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee as saying the directive wrongly implied that all citizens of certain nations are suspect. "...[T]his is extreme and very dangerous," he r