Effective today, the Transportation Security Administration is imposing new security rules on passengers flying to the United States from 14 countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
“TSA is maintaining that every individual flying into the US from anywhere in the world traveling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest will be required to go through enhanced screening,” they said in a directive. “The directive also increases the use of enhanced screening technologies and mandates threat-based and random screening for passengers on US bound international flights.”
So, why those countries?
The other ten are “countries of interest” where terrorism and instability are problems.
Looking at the State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism for 2008, which came out in 2009, you can see a variety of reasons why countries may have made that list.
In Lebanon, there is Hizballah, “completely replenished” and having “moved arms back into southern Lebanon” where it was “providing training to HAMAS operatives from Gaza.”
There’s Sudan where “Al Qaida-inspired terrorist elements, and elements of both Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and HAMAS remain.”
Libya, the State Department says, appears “to have curtailed its support for international terrorism, although it may have retained residual contacts with some of its former terrorist clients.”
Meanwhile, all the screening rules in the world won’t make a difference if people are allowed to walk the wrong way through an exit lane in a supposedly secure area, causing an airport — like Newark — to be shut down for hours.