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Extra security measures for some nationalities 11, January 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations, Saudi Arabia.
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Citizens of Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen will face extra security measures when en route to America. This is an understandable knee-jerk reaction. However, it must be remembered that, for example, someone can drive from Damascus to Amman in a couple of hours and thus fly to the US from a country not on the list. Also, having Cuba on the list is an archaic and ridiculous relic of US policy that really must be updated.

A Saudi ‘preacher’ has apparently urged authorities to demand that Saudi citizens be taken off this list and if this is not done, that they impose a travel ban on Saudi citizens on traveling to America. What an idiot. I’m sure that that’ll have US officials quaking in their boots and falling over themselves to appease the Saudis.

US airport security leak: extra security for certain Arabs 9, December 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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The fact that Arab nationals undergo extra checks at US airports is hardly breaking news. Yet, now and for the first time (so far as I know…) the policy itself of which nationalities are deemed necessary for extra checks has leaked out of the US Transport Security Administration. Here’s the relevant bit:

If the individual’s photo ID is a passport issued by the Government of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen or Algeria, refer the individual for selectee screening unless the individual has been exempted from selectee screening by the FSD or aircraft operator.

Given that the vast majority of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, that Saudi Arabia is still today a font of – to put it nicely – austere and strict Islamic teachings, the kind of which was indisputably a crucial factor in the 9/11 attacks and countless others besides, and that Saudi Arabia underwent a wave of terrorist bombings only a few years before this document became policy, it is surprising to note that Saudi citizens were not singled out for extra security.

Presumably, there must have been significant diplomatic pressure on US authorities not to add Saudi citizens to such a list. This can surely be the only explanation.

This information leak came to light after a report was released in which the blacking-out had not been done correctly. Not long afterward, someone posted the clean document on Cryptome.org for the world to see. US officials have reacted with relative nonchalance, simply saying that while it is regrettable, procedures are constantly changing and no truly important details were leaked.