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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Nigerian terrorist places personal privacy at issue, faces 6 counts

Nigerian places your privacy
at risk

Do you want to fly naked?

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to blow up Northwest

 flight 253 to Detroit, faces 6 counts, long time in jail

Friday, January 08, 2010     Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who placed a bomb in his underwear on Northwest flight 253 bound for Detroit, was charged with six criminal counts today. Abdulmutallab may spend the rest of his life in prison, which for a 23 year old is a very long time.

"Had he been forced to do a strip search the items would have easily been discovered."

Farouk Abdulmutallab created a national controversy regarding full body searches at airports when a bomb he had hidden in his underwear failed to explode. Had he been forced to do a strip search the items would have easily been discovered.

It is not practical to strip search every passenger who boards an aircraft. However, there is new technology that allows airport screeners to check for items hidden under clothing including in one’s underpants. Unfortunately, the ‘back scanner x-ray’ reveals everything else clothes usually hide, including genitals, breasts and the like. The x-ray machine is already being used in some countries in an attempt to thwart terrorists. ABC News on the Backscanner:

“I would rather submit to a full body scan than lose my life”

“I would rather submit to a full body scan than lose my life” said Vernon Blair, a resident of Lake Jackson, Texas, when randomly polled about his view on the event.  “I don’t like anyone looking at my private parts but I want to be safe when I fly.”

One must wonder what the passengers and crew of flight 253 would have said before and after the flight. If they were against being viewed in the buff by x-ray before the flight, are they against it now? It would be interesting to ask. Presumably, if Abdulmutallab had been successful, all 279 passengers and 11 crewmembers would have been killed last Christmas day.

In addition to the back scanner x-ray, there is a new type of scanner which can view entire crowds of people as if they are naked. Unlike the back scanner, the machine does not reveal as much detail about body parts under your clothes. It still reveals persons as if they are walking around in their birthdays suits, but the outlines are 'more fuzzy'.

Being seen naked, even if only by security officers, is a problem in the culture and conscience of Americans. The notions of personal privacy are difficult to give up. But so is the notion of security. No doubt the debate will rage on as acts like those of Abudlmutallab continue to bring the issue to the fore. One can only hope a solution is found before our failure to act costs nearly 300 lives, as it almost did in the case of Northwest 253 from Amsterdam. 

More about the backscanner:

Being seen naked, even if only by security
 officers, is a problem"

In the meantime, Abdulmutallab faces a long time behind prison bars if he is convicted. Count three of the indictment charges him with willful attempt to destroy or wreck an aircraft, with a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Count four, willfully placing a destructive device on an aircraft, could get the young Nigerian 20 more years.

Count 5, use of a firearm or destructive device during a crime of violence carries a consecutive and mandatory 30 year sentence. Count six, possession of a firearm or destructive device in furtherance of a crime, carries another mandatory consecutive 30 year term.

 If found guilty on all of the above counts the young Nigerian would face 100 years in jail if the two 20 year sentences were carried out consecutively. If not, and guilty, he would face at least 60 years. However, it is count one, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction that could shut the iron doors on the 23 year old Nigerian forever. It carries a life sentence.

"The attempted murder of 289 innocent people merits the most serious charges available, and that’s what we have charged in this indictment," said U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

"Fortunately for the lives on board, the bomb did not explode"

Witness reports indicated Abdulmutallab was subdued by the passengers and flight crew after attempting to detonate the bomb. Fortunately for the lives on board, the bomb did not explode. The would-be martyr was subdued before he was able to tinker with the device in his attempt to make it work. Even though the bomb did not explode, it was enough to cause a fire, and burn the Nigerian’s leg.

Meanwhile, the state department is under the gun for allowing Nigerian Abdulmutallab to have a visa in the first place.  The father of the 23 year old went to the embasy in Nigeria to warn the U.S. State Department about his son's radical islamist beliefs.  P.J. Crowley, the State Department spokesman, was unsure if anyone from the embasy had asked abou the visa.

Crowly said, "We're still trying to sort that out," when the question was raised.

See the article by the New York Daily News:

The Government is looking for accomplices. The investigation is being conducted by the Detroit Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is led by the FBI and includes U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Air Marshal Service, and other law enforcement agencies. Additional assistance has been provided by the Transportation Security Administration, the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the Wayne County Airport police, as well as international law enforcement partners.

“Anyone we find responsible for this alleged attack will be brought to justice using every tool -- military or judicial -- available to our government." said Attorney General Eric Holder.

It is important to remember Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is under indictment only. The 23 year old Nigerian who placed a bomb in his underwear and tried to detonate it on Christmas day is innocent until proven guilty. Fortunately, the passengers on northwest flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit will live to see the verdict. That is the system we use in the United States of America and the very system Abudlmutallab was attacking.

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