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Under new rules prompted by
a failed attempt to blow up an American jetliner on Christmas Day, foreign air
travelers coming to the United States from 14 nations are being asked to
undergo extra security screening.
Four countries on the list - Syria, Cuba, Iran and Sudan -- are considered
state sponsors of terrorism, governments that have been found to have
repeatedly given support for acts of international terrorism. Ten others --
Algeria, Libya, Somalia and Nigeria in Africa -- are seen as countries of interest,
where air travel is deemed to be at greater risk of abuse by known and
potential terrorists who target American citizens and interests. The list will
be reviewed regularly and modified as circumstances and risk assessments allow.
Nigerian officials say the new screening requirements are unfair to their
countrymen. The would-be bomber, a Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab,
was recruited and trained for the attack elsewhere, they say, and isn't
reflective of Nigeria and shouldn't be used as a measure to judge all
Nigerians. They also note their country has tightened its own air security
procedures in response to the incident.
New U.S. air security measures, however, aren't intended to stigmatize the
citizens of any particular nation on the list. They respond to a specific
incident and heightened threat, as did measures taken after the September 11,
2001, terror strikes on New York City and Washington D.C. Because of the added
level of security they impose, they also benefit air passengers from those
nations who may be at risk from similar incidents.
Indeed, the new requirements include long-term, sustainable measures developed
in consultation with law enforcement officials in many nations, recognizing that
effective aviation security must transcend borders.