Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who provides the best security of them all..?

By Rahnuma Ahmed

In the aftermath of the `underwear’ bomber incident, an increasing clamour of voices insist that the rest of the world should learn airport security from Israel, and El Al, its national airlines.
Their record is impressive, writes Christopher Walker. Global Traveller magazine has named El Al, the “world’s most secure airline” (`Air security: rest of world needs to learn from El Al,’ The First Post, 21 January 2010).
Their deterrents, both seen and unseen, are most effective. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) provide updated specifications of weapons and explosives likely to be used by terrorists and militants. Security staff, often women, trained in psychological techniques begin questioning passengers as they approach the terminal. El Al terminals the world over, are patrolled by plain-clothes agents, fully armed police, and military personnel. Passenger names are checked at passport control with FBI, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Scotland Yard, Shin Bet (Israel’s domestic security service), Interpol and French Deuxieme Bureau databases. To divert missiles, all aircrafts are fitted with Flight Guard Civil Aviation Missile Protection System. All bags are routinely put in a decompression chamber which simulates on-flight pressure needed to trigger explosives. Sky marshals, armed but often in plain-clothes, travel on flights. All these are routine matters.
As is its pro-Jewish racial profiling.
Human rights campaigners the world over may “object” to it, some may think it “shameless,” others may regard it as “blatant” but, Walker writes, its inclusion ensures “thoroughness.” After all, what is more important? Differential treatment toward some passengers? Or, risking the lives of all?
Absence of the Israeli-kind-of security in Britain’s recent measures, is likely to lead to failure. (Only) No-fly lists. (Only) Cancelling all flights between Britain and Yemen. (Only) Seamlessly tracking and disrupting all terrorist movements. (Only) Introducing full body scanners at all British airports. These are just “not enough,” says Walker. Nothing short of racial and religious profiling, and fitting aircrafts with anti-missile systems?will do.
Delia Lloyd is similarly enthusiastic about Israel, which has “pioneered” and “perfected” aviation security. A full-scale Israelification of US and UK airports is needed, and even though sheer numbers, costs of re-training employees make it daunting, we should start thinking of “moving towards the Israeli model.” (`Airport Security: Is Israel the Answer,’ Politics Daily, 1/08/10).
Not everyone agrees. As a reader comments on Lloyd’s piece: “No, Israel isn’t the answer, Israel is the problem. Why do you think we are the object of attacks? Because we prop up Israel, and behave like Israel.” [TAWNY JONES 5:58 AM, JAN 8, 2010; CHECKED AT 21:26, 24 JANUARY, HAS BEEN REMOVED]
Interestingly enough, the clamor for Israelification began soon after serious doubts and questions surfaced about what actually occurred at Schipol airport in Amsterdam.
But there are questions about other airports too. About private firms who were in charge of security. Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris (2001). Logan airport in Boston (2001). For the underground, as well. The London Underground (2005).
But more on Schipol first. In an earlier column (`Padded Underwear,’ 10 January 2010), I’d written that airport security in Amsterdam is contracted to an Israeli controlled company; the same company which developed the concept of security profiling.
XRay images at airport


New Airport Security


Newer information since: it’s called International Consultants on Targeted Security (not `ICTS Europe,’ a different company), and was established in 1982 by former agents of Israel’s internal Shin Bet security service and former El Al airline security agents. It is Netherlands-based and has two subsidiaries (I-SEC, and its daughter company P-I, or Pro-Check International). These provide security services consisting of consultation, instruction, training, inspection and supervision. Links between El Al security and Mossad (Israeli intelligence) are very close, according to Gordon Duff of Veteran Today, with “abundant cross-pollination of senior personnel back and forth.” ICTS’s senior management are all ex-Israeli security officials, many work for El Al security (e.g., retd Major General Amos Lapidot, an ICTS board member, had served as a commander of the Israeli Air Force).
Abdulmutallab’s father had gone to the US embassy in Nigeria, in November. His son, he said, was being influenced by “unidentified extremists,” and was planning to travel to Yemen (incidentally, Nigerian intelligence services are tied to, and trained by, Israel). Intelligence officials, said president Obama, had failed to “connect those dots.”
But being on a terrorist watchlist means (a) not being permitted to board a commercial airline
(b) being put under immediate surveillance. In Abdulmutallab’s case, not even his US visa was withdrawn. Well. Okay. It? could happen. It did. But what about security officers at Schipol? Despite his “age, name, illogical travel route, high-priced ticket purchased at the last minute, his boarding without luggage (only a carry on) and many other signs” they were not suspicious (Haaretz, 10 January 2010). Despite the fact that ICTS is renowned for using security measures “pioneered” in Israel: assessing the threat level of passengers based on name, age, nationality and behaviour during questioning.
The official account gradually began losing credibility. Kurt Haskell (American lawyer, passenger) recalled having seen a wealthy looking Indian man with Abdulmutallab at Schipol, (“an odd pair”). He heard the elder man tell the ticket agent, he doesn’t have a passport, he’s Sudanese, he needs to board the plane. “We do this all the time.” The agent suggested they go and talk to the manager. The next thing he knew, Abdulmutallab was on the same flight, trying to ignite explosives.
At first Dutch security insisted, Abdulmutallab had a passport. Later, it was revised: he did not have to “Go through normal passport checking procedures” but he did undergo “a security interview and check” (But if he did not have a passport, how could they have known that he had a valid US visa?) Haskell says, what is important is the presence of an apparently successful accomplice who can “skirt normal passport boarding procedures in Amsterdam.” Dutch security says there was no Indian man, but it has not released any video footage. “I have no doubt that if the video indicated that my account was wrong… [it] would have already swept over the entire world wide web.” As did video footage of the death of Iranian protestor Neda Agha-Soltan.
Another passenger, Richelle Keepman says, a man with a camcorder had calmly and without interruption filmed the entire incident (“he was standing up [when] we were supposed to be seated”). After the plane landed in Detroit, FBI agents arrived with sniffer dogs, handcuffed a younger Indian man, and took him away. Nothing has since been heard about him, or the person who video-recorded the foiled attempt. Interestingly enough, FBI’s account of what happened has changed 5 times, while Haskell’s remains unchanged.
Richard Reid, shoe bomber (22 December 2001): Reid attempted to board an El Al flight from Schipol to Tel Aviv six months before the attempted shoe bombing. El Al security identified him as a terrorist suspect (one-way ticket, cash payment) but instead of handing him over to Dutch security, they allowed him to board the plane so that his movements during his 5 days in Israel could be monitored by Shin Bet. Six months later, he tried to ignite his shoe on AA flight 63 from Paris to Miami. Israel had not informed British, American, French or any other security agency of their concerns about Reid. He later claimed that El Al had failed to detect the explosives in his shoes.
The name of the security company which allowed him to board the AA flight in Paris? ICTS.
London Bombings (7 July 2005): A series of successive and coordinated bomb attacks on 3 London Underground trains (and a double decker bus) killed 56 people. Calls for a full, independent inquiry dismissed by prime minister Tony Blair, a “ludicrous diversion.”
Security for London’s Underground train network was provided by Verint Systems (Israeli).

9/11 terror attacks (9 September 2001): ICTS sold services to all 3 airports?Logan International (Boston), Washington Dulles International, Newark International (New Jersey)?from which the four hijacked planes operated on 9/11, including security, sometimes through wholly-owned subsidiaries like Huntleigh USA Corporation. As a 9/11 researcher puts it, this means an Israeli company had “automatic inside access to all of the[se] airports…”
Hours before the House version of the first Patriot Act went to a vote, “technical corrections” were inserted making foreign security companies such as ICTS-International immune from lawsuits related to 9/11. The act was signed into law by president Bush on 26 October 2001.
No independent inquiry has been held on 9/11. According to Thomas Kean, chairman of the official 9/11 Commission, it was “set up to fail.” Pentagon, Federal Aviation Administration, and NORAD officials said things “just so far from the truth.”
And, `the Indian man’? Wayne Madsen, an ex-US navy lieutenant turned investigative journalist and blogger, thinks the attempted terrorist attack on the Detroit-bound plane was actually a false flag operation (covert operation, designed to deceive the public). That it was carried out by the “intelligence tripartite grouping of the CIA, Mossad, and India?s Research and Analysis Wing.”
To assume a RAW connection just because the man was Indian, is surely stretching it a bit too far? But then, I remember Israeli prime minister Netanyahu’s words, ?Our ties with India don?t have any limitation??
Published in New Age, 25 January 2010

Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.”

2 thoughts on “Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who provides the best security of them all..?”

  1. Abid Bahar
    Brahmin Wall and Berlin Wall: The Walls of Hatred
    What a shame in a name!
    Hasina is playing an anti-people dangerous game
    Hasina gave our land and river for her help and fame
    Shame, Shame and shame!
    Hasina’s puppetiery and connectivity
    brings Indian demon trucks and crocodiles in the Bay in activity
    Our homeland alarmingly facing Indian destructivity.
    People demand the end of the illegal activity.
    You see guarded by a BSF behind the barbed wall filled with hatred
    Guarding the Brahmin untouchable wall to help Bengalis betrayed
    India’s wall was built against the Falanis hatred
    Long ago the Berlin wall E. Germany’s facism was destroyed
    Brahmin wall reenforced with Hasina betrayed
    Our children becomes trapped like insects in a cobweb of hatred!
    When will Bengalis unite to tear it down and chase the guards betrayed!

  2. Satire: Hasina dies and meets Falani in Charge of Bangladeshi Hell!
    Abid Bahar
    Part 1
    Hasina dies and goes to hell. Once there, she finds that there are
    different hells for each country, so she tries to seek out the least
    painful one. At the door to the German Hell, she is told:
    ?First, they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then they lay you
    down on a bed of nails for another hour. Then the German devils comes in
    and whips you for the rest of the day.?She does not like the sound of that,
    so he checks out the American Hell, Russian Hell and many more. They are all
    similarly gruesome. However, at the Bangladeshi Hell, a long line of people
    is waiting to get in. Amazed, he asks,
    ?What do they do here??She is told:
    ?First, they put you in an electric chair for an hour. Then they lay you
    down on a bed of nails for another hour. Then the Bangladeshi devils comes
    in and whips you for the rest of the day.??But that?s the same as the
    others,?says Hasina.?Why are so many people waiting to get in???Because of
    the power cuts, the electric chair does not work. The nails were paid for
    but never supplied by India, so the bed is comfortable. And the Bangladeshi
    devil used to be a Jubo League civil servant, so he comes in, signs his
    time sheet and goes back home for private business. and generally it is
    liberal for Bangladeshis.?Hasina accepts Bangladeshi hell and signs
    documents. She congratulates herself thinking this is all-good and says ?it
    was actually done by me for my people?s comfort.?But as she enters the hell
    she finds Falani, who died on India Bangladesh border fence now in charge of
    the Bangladeshi Hell to try crook politicians.
    Part 2 :
    “Pranabda, Pranabda” says Hasina
    Hasina scared steps back to call Pronobda for help. Says “Dada help me, I gave you
    transit for free!” Falani stops her to make any phone calls for further
    connectivity and asks her to first cross the entrance fence made of barbed
    wire with razer sharp blades. Hasina, looks for an escape route but notices next to the fence Major General Gulzar and his armed colleagues aiming at Hasina to shoot her when she
    prepares to climb the fence. She exclaims, “I am not Falani, don’t kill me!” Hasina now scared and asks for forgiveness for her BKSAL PLUS and her father’s BKSAL misdeeds and says “take me to another hell” but alas! she has already signed the papers. Hasina now steps back again to call herl Pronobda for help. Says “Dada please help me,I gave you transit!” Falani stops Hasina from phoning and reminds Hasina “You allowed transit to India over my country at the cost of 1 billion dollars
    loan from India to facilitate transit of friendship for India to move its giant trucks, ships and goods, but I was a poor little girl,I remember when I was crossing the fence Indian border guards killed me like a bird and hung me on the fence for 4 hours until I died, I asked for water, I didn’t get. I
    was hungry, thursty,and was bleeding. I looked like the Bangladeshi flag but the anti-Bangladesh Indian xenophobe guards laughed at me!, in this, I don’t understand your generousity’s equation!”
    The tricky Hasina says, “I am sorry, Falani, it was in the past. now I need some
    water, help me Falani!, I am the PM, help!”
    Falani: “You are not the PM here, and Bangladesh Hell is located just near Tipaimukh dam built by India, at your permission; you see here we have no water come through the dam! “Hasina,” screems Falani, “Now you betterstart to climb the fence without water!” As she prepares to climb, she again notices next to the fence Major General Gulzar and his armed BDR colleagues aiming at her to shoot. She screams again says. “Pranada, Pranabda, help! help!”
    Alas! In the Hell no Pranab could be seen except Falani forciing crook politicians to cross the barbed razor sharp fence over and again

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