Dubai airports will not use hi-tech full-body scanners because they “contradict Islam” and violate passengers’ privacy, according to reports — even though the scanners can detect terrorist threats like those posed by the Christmas Day bomber. Neither of Dubai’s two airports will use the scanners “out of respect for the privacy of individuals and their personal freedom,” the head of airport security for the emirate told Al-Bayan daily, AFP reported.
Two women, one a Muslim, have become the first people to be barred from boarding a flight because they refused to go through a full-body airport scanner. Manchester airport confirmed today that the women, who were booked to fly to Islamabad with Pakistan International Airlines, were told they could not get on the plane after they refused to be scanned.
The Muslim woman stated her religion as the reason to refuse the scan, which would display intimate body parts to strangers, and decided to forfeit her ticket. Her companion also left the airport saying she did not go through the scanner on medical grounds because she had an infection. The full-body scanners were introduced at Manchester and Heathrow last month after the Christmas Day bombing attempt in Detroit. The £80,000 Rapiscan machines show a clear body outline and have been described by critics as the equivalent of “virtual strip searching”, while the affect on health is also unclear as yet.
Chief of Interpol Ronald Noble reports the biggest problem in travel is passport fraud, the stolen documentation terrorists use to travel the globe. He says 11 million stolen passports have been reported, could be being used by human traffickers, drug traffickers, terrorists, or war criminals.
He says it’s difficult to discern the motivations behind anyone carrying a passport, and if terrorists intend to board planes, they won’t do it with explosives that can be detected.
He feels the solution is better intelligence and better intelligence sharing, not large-scale implementations of full body scanners.
The increased use of body scanners is already occurring across the US as the result of the attempted Christmas Day terror attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
Abdulmutallab is believed to have met with al-Qaida operatives in a house used by extremist Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. He has also been linked to Major Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter.
Yemeni’s deputy prime minister believes the cleric is alive, although Obama officials believed he was killed December 24 on an air strike on a house in Yemen.
The US gave Nigeria full body scanners to use at their 4 international airports, but the machine in Lagos is only used sporadically and only for people suspected of drug smuggling.
Albdulmutallab told classmates after the Islamic course they were enrolled in together was over, he was going to study Shari’a law in Hadhramout Province, but may have lied to cover up travel to Shabwa.
The Schiphol airport in Amsterdam is requiring all US-bound travelers to undergo full body scans as part of the security screening process. They will be employing the scanners within three weeks.
Interior minister Guusje ter Horst says the US disapproved of Dutch use of scanners due to privacy issues. Washington and ter Horst now agree that “all possible measures will be used on flights to the US.”
US Homeland Security Department deny that they ever discouraged the use of scanners.
The EU has not approved routine use of the machines. The new rule will require permission from the European parliament, and a change in legislation is required. The European Commission is meeting with member states next week to discuss the matter.
After Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow up a jetliner en route to the US on Christmas Day, American airports plan to triple the number of full body scanners from 40 to 150. The machines have led a debate on where the line should be drawn on security measures to preserve the privacy of citizens.
Analysts call the scans virtual strip searches, as they can see through passenger clothing, creating naked images of passengers. ACLU Washington Legislative Office policy counsel Michael German says they will not detect explosives hidden in body cavities, making them both ineffective, inconvenient, and personally invasive.
Naked images could be shared through the internet, but measures are being taken to prevent this.
They are also expensive. At a cost of $150,000 each, aviation and business experts say there will be a rise in air travel costs in order to pay for the machines. Increasing costs concern not only passengers but also airlines, who have struggled to stay in business.