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Profiling plan angers UK Muslims
The British government says it is working on new security procedures at airports.



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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The British government is considering a system of passenger profiling that includes checks on travelers' ethnic or religious background, according to media reports.

The planned system of tougher airport checks would create a new offense of "traveling whilst Asian," according to one of Britain's most senior Muslim police officers.

Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Ali Dizaei said intelligence could be used to examine travel history, how a ticket is purchased and frequency of travel, but added: "It becomes hugely problematic when it's based on ethnicity, religion and country of origin. I don't think there's a stereotypical image of a terrorist."

The Times newspaper reports that officials at the Department for Transport are considering a system of passenger profiling that would select people behaving suspiciously, who have an unusual travel pattern or have a certain ethnic or religious background.

It comes after former Scotland Yard chief Lord Stevens said that airport chaos could be reduced by targeting passengers for more rigorous checks, with "young Muslim men" a focus.

Writing in the News of the World newspaper, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner wrote that politicians should stop pandering to a "state of denial" among British Muslims that Islamic terrorism was "their problem."

He wrote: "I'm a white 62-year-old 6ft 4in suit-wearing ex-cop -- I fly often, but do I really fit the profile of suicide bomber?

"Does the young mum with three tots? The gay couple, the rugby team, the middle-aged businessman? No. But they are all getting exactly the same amount and devouring huge resources for no logical reason whatsoever.

"Yet the truth is Islamic terrorism in the West has been universally carried out by young Muslim men, usually of ethnic appearance, almost always traveling alone or in very small groups.

"A tiny percentage, I bet, of those delayed today have such characteristics.

"Of course, there will be instant squealings that this is racism. It's not. It's exactly the same as recognizing that, during the Northern Ireland troubles that left thousands dead, the IRA were totally based in the Catholic community and the UVF in the Protestant."

But Mr Dizaei told the BBC: "What you are suggesting is that we should have a new offence in this country called 'traveling whilst Asian.'

"That's unpalatable to everyone. It is communities that defeat terrorism, and what we don't want to do is actually alienate the very communities who are going to help us catch terrorists.

"We cannot lose sight of the fact that terrorists come in all shapes and sizes. "Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber, would have certainly gone through the security system because he was a white male.

"Clearly it is about common sense, but it's not about saying to the victims of this problem -- and remember the Muslim community is also a victim of this problem, and many of the people on July were in fact Muslim -- you are the victims, you go and sort it out.

"It's not dissimilar to saying to women who are victims of domestic violence; you are a victim of domestic violence you should go and sort it out yourself.'"

A DfT spokesman told the UK Press Association they would neither confirm nor deny the reports in The Times, only saying: "In due course we expect to issue new security requirements but we are working out at the moment what they are going to say."

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, previously described the Lord Stevens' suggestion as "an extreme form of stereotyping."

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