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Airport security measure sparking outrage -

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Airport security measure sparking outrage

Reporter: Matt Peacock

KERRY O'BRIEN: It's now a week since British police thwarted an alleged bomb plot to destroy up to
10 airplanes in midair between England and America. Airport security staff worldwide have since
been working overtime to make air travel safer, but it's impossible to thoroughly screen millions
of travellers. One controversial measure that's getting increasing attention is so-called racial
profiling, with the aim to single out the most likely suspects according to race or religion. Those
passengers would then face extra checks before being allowed to board flights. The proposal has
sparked outrage from Muslim groups in Britain who say it's discriminatory while others, including
some police, argue terrorists don't fit a typical pattern and include people of all races and age.
But in Australia, the idea has been endorsed by a former chairman of the National Crime Authority
who wants to go one step further. Matt Peacock reports.

MATT PEACOCK: It's the age of mass terror, and especially for air travellers, mass screening. With
it have come some uncomfortable questions.

on Muslims because we know that is where the problem is coming from. What's the point of searching
thoroughly a little old Anglo Celtic lady of 74 who lives at Nunawading and waving through a group
of obvious Muslims? It's just ridiculous.

MATT PEACOCK: For Peter Faris, former National Crime Authority chairman, the time for political
correctness is over.

PETER FARIS: I think there should be a national ID card or a passport to get an airline ticket, and
to enhance all this I think it should have the people's religion on it.

WALEED ALY, ISLAMIC COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA: I think more than anything, it's just a plainly stupid
idea, really. I don't think it will really achieve much. It won't work. I'm yet to see how it's
going to improve or increase our security. And I think it will really achieve nothing but make a
whole lot of people feel very alienated.

MATT PEACOCK: But Peter Faris can't understand what the fuss is about.

PETER FARIS: The response to these comments are very negative. I'm called a racist, I'm accused of
creating terrorism and so on. All I'm trying to do is to say something which I think is the truth
and is obvious.

WALEED ALY: You just make a whole lot of people upset. You achieve nothing. You certainly don't
make us safer.

MATT PEACOCK: According to this man from the Victorian Islamic Council, the answer is not so

WALEED ALY: Here, we are dealing with a threat that does not lead itself easily to being readily
profiled. You can't racially profile it. That's been demonstrated by the fact that most - well not
most but a good proportion of terror suspects and people who have even been convicted of terrorism
in Australia and elsewhere are actually of Anglo origin.

MATT PEACOCK: Although all three people convicted of terrorism in Australia in recent years were
practising Muslims, neither Jack Thomas nor Jack Roche fit the ethnic stereotype. Nor does Don
Stewart-Whyte, the son of a Tory official arrested over last week's alleged plot in Britain. Nor
did the infamous shoe bomber, Richard Reid. So where does all that leave airport security? Where
one mistake could have awful consequences?

DR ALAN DOLNIK, WOLLONGONG UNIVERSITY: Profiling is in existence. Some of the things that you would
look for is the absence of a carry-on or a check-in luggage. That's one of the indicators that's
seen as enough probable cause, cause if you will, to screen somebody more thoroughly. Sometimes it
can be ethnicity, it can be the national origin. It can be a stamp in a passport which indicates a
visit to a certain country. All of these things do count to a certain profile that authorities are
using in airports all over the world. The customs agent stopped him to collect his paperwork and
say "Have a nice trip," and noticed he was sweating profusely.

MATT PEACOCK: But profiling has its problems according to Wollongong University's terrorist expert
Dr Adam Dolnik. Not the least of which is the capacity of terrorists to adapt.

DR ADAM DOLNIK: At the height of the suicide bombing campaign by Hamas, and the Islamic jihad, the
profile was - it's a young male, unmarried, uneducated, from one of the refugee camps, he is gonna
be wearing bulky clothing, what have you. The profile started working but very quickly in early
2002, the organisations adapted by employing female suicide bombers.

WALEED ALY: It's one thing to say that terrorists are evil people. It's a very different thing to
say they're stupid. And I don't think that anyone who knows that they're going to be profiled on
the basis of race or profiled on the basis of appearance and wants to escape that kind of scrutiny
is going to find it very difficult to change their appearance or to use people who do not fit the
profile that is being searched.

DR ADAM DOLNIK: You can have the best detection systems in the world, and if the human factor fails
it could have tragic results. And a good example is the August 2004 attack in Russia, twin suicide
bombings where two Chechen women arrived at the airport without check-in luggage, no carry-on. So
they were immediately selected for additional screening but after they paid $500 in bribes they
were able to get past the screening station and board two planes and detonate a mid-course flight,
killing 89 people.

MATT PEACOCK: Of the over 50 million passengers passing through Australia's airports every year,
what characteristics stand out amongst would-be terrorists? Are they obvious Muslims? Are men more
of a risk than women? Are they young, in their 20s? Are they clean shaven or bearded? Is there any
reason to choose this man over all the others?

DR ADAM DOLNIK: We should look at a combination of profiles, early intelligence, also detection
technology, X-rays, vapour detectors and so forth.

MATT PEACOCK: Peter Faris insists that his profiling solution has Muslim interests, too, at heart.

PETER FARIS, QC: This infringement of their civil liberty, which it is, is a good thing for them,
because it protects them as well as us. There's only a handful of people we are concerned about,
but they are Muslims. Let's make it as hard for them as we can.

WALEED ALY: If we're going to be putting forward suggestions such as the kinds of profiling that
we've seen, that are not likely to work in any event and on top of that all they're going to do is
alienate sectors of the Muslim community, then really what we're doing is working very hard to
exacerbate the risk, rather than actually doing anything to remedy it.