Increased security at the airports: (Un)necessary step?

It was announced that the UK will tighten airport security upon American request. Would you say it is a necessary step or not, and why? Read few comments.

David LowePrincipal Lecturer, Law School, Liverpool John Moores University

It is a necessary step. Since 9/11 the quality and efficiency in terrorism intelligence exchange between states, especially between the US and the UK has increased enormously thereby increasing its effectiveness in preventing acts of terrorism. While specifics have not been released as to the nature of the intelligence one can assume it is related to flights between the UK and the US. In 2006 we saw a similar instance where this occurred that resulted in the prevention of terrorist attacks. With the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts involving jihadist groups currently ongoing that has influenced an estimated 500 UK citizens to join the fight on both the Sunni and Shia militias in those countries, the threat these citizens pose is real. This threat is enhanced by the fact the Al-Nusra Front which is an Al Qaeda affiliate fighting in Syria has been supported by Al Qaeda, with that support including assistance from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) based in Yemen assisting Al-Nusra with knowledge and techniques on explosives from AQAP’s bomb expert al-Nisiri. Preventing acts of terrorism is main focus of counter-terrorism policing and if this means inconveniencing airport passengers for an extra 30 – 45 minutes at security check in airports, it is worth it as everyone wants be secure in the knowledge they will arrive at their destination safely.

Adrian GuelkeProfessor, Centre for the Study of Ethnic Conflict, Queen’s University of Belfast

As I understand it – and more or less as the story you have highlighted has it – it is simply in response to a warning issued by the US government and affecting flights to the USA primarily (if not solely). There has been no alternation made in the declared threat level in the UK. The media here has reported on the info coming out of the USA to the effect that the threat is seen as credible there and presumably based on recently gathered intelligence. This seems to be to the effect that persons that the US has been monitoring have been exploring new ways in which they might put aircraft in jeopardy (and presumably might be difficult to detect or at least missable, hence the emphasis on the need for rigorous checks). However, my impression is that the story has for whatever reason been given slightly more prominence here than in the US itself. A practical consideration would be that security checks may now take a bit longer and with crowded airports in the summer, the advice is to arrive early for check-in. That may explain government’s pushing of the story so as to alert passengers to this issue. There has recently been a problem over the time it takes to process passports and I am sure the government doesn’t want to be blamed for delays at airports and people missing flights that might occur because of more rigorous checking of bags. The wider context is fear of blowback from the situation in Iraq.


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