Last week's attempt by a Nigerian national to blow up a US airliner over Detroit has once again drawn attention to the need for Western countries to embrace the practice of passenger profiling, an Israeli aviation security expert told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
Amikam Azoulay, founder and head of the Tel Aviv-based MA1 Security Ltd. Company, said three rings of security were in place to protect airline passengers from terrorism - intelligence gathering, preventative measures at airport, and last-ditch attempts to physically prevent attacks from being carried out.
The suspect, 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, should have been stopped at the first, outer ring of protection, that of intelligence, Azoulay said.
"It's a major blunder, but not because of the techniques in place, but rather because they were not followed," he said. "Creating lists of suspects [to prevent them from boarding planes] has proven itself," Azoulay added."
Before founding his company, Azoulay commanded the Shin Bet Security School. He oversaw the training for and supervision of security systems for aviation, VIP protection, embassies and consulates. He is a veteran of IDF special forces units.
"If someone, especially a suicide bomber, passes through the intelligence ring, it is very difficult to prevent them from carrying out the attack," Azoulay said. "This further demonstrates the case for profiling."
Israeli airport security relies heavily on profiling passengers, but such practices are controversial in the US, where political correctness is keeping them in check, Azoulay argued.
"There's no such thing as 100 percent security, but with profiling, the chances of letting an attacker through are much lower," he said.
"We believe in systematic profiling, and closely scrutinizing the way passengers look and behave," Azoulay said. It is impossible for someone who intends to carry out an attack to fail to inadvertently send out a suspicious signal at some point during the screening process, he added.
"Even just asking the right questions can lead to an understanding of someone's intentions," Azoulay said.
The lack of a sky marshal on the plane targeted on Friday was insignificant in the case of a suicide bomber, Azoulay said.
"On a jumbo jet carrying 400 passengers, as soon as someone activates a device, they can't be stopped. That's not what an air marshal is for," he added.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that an Israeli-owned aviation security company, ICTS, is based at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and is reportedly working with Dutch authorities to provide security solutions. ICTS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.