Ummid Assistant

Samsung sets up fund for poor kids' education

US varsity offers doctorate for education professionals

Welcome Guest! You are here: Home » Views & Analysis

Shah Rukh victim of US random selection system

Saturday April 14, 2012 05:59:20 PM, Mayank Chhaya, IANS

Related Articles

Shah Rukh Khan detained at NYK airport again

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who has millions of fans in India and around the world, was  »

Indian envoy asked to take up issue with US

Chicago: When India's star actor Shah Rukh Khan was detained and questioned for two hours at the Newark International Airport in August, 2009, the action could well have been a result of the random selection parameter built into the U. immigration's security system rather than only racial profiling.

With Khan reliving that experience on Thursday at a small airport in New York state, the question whether that parameter was designed deliberately to focus on people of certain names, religion, background, nationality or race has cropped up again. The possible answer is unlikely to placate a certain segment of Indian population that feels outraged at the actor's treatment.

At some level it is understandable that the whole security apparatus has been designed to not just take out potential terrorists in their first attempt but to disrupt their operation at any and every stage. No one at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is likely to acknowledge that the system works the way it does because of a built-in combination of intelligent and brute logic as well as preordained bias.

Khan's name or one that closely resembles his appears to be on a list of over a million others that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has compiled of people it thinks are, at the very least, of suspicious antecedents. Getting off that list for those like the actor who have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism has been known to be a nightmare in America. The list has been a subject of serious scrutiny and criticism by civil liberties groups which believe it is sweeping in its reach and more often than not throws up those who have absolutely nothing to do with any terrorist groups.

On the face of it, Khan may have been randomly picked out by the US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services' database. The system at the White Plains, New York, airport threw up Khan's name for any number of variable reasons. It is hard to speculate on the algorithm that triggered it.

Someone might argue that the Khan = Muslim = possible terrorist = detention logic, although profoundly offensive, seems to have been built into the system with the rationale that it is better to humiliate a thousand innocent Khans than let a potential terrorist Khan enter the US. However, this explanation does not make sense because Khan has been visiting the US for many years.

With his 2009 detention and subsequent embarrassment for the US authorities, some effort ought to have been made to ensure that red flags do not go up against his passport number and fingerprint again. Every visitor to the US and even permanent residents are fully fingerprinted on arrival every time. It is hard to comprehend why specific names attached to specific fingerprints and passport numbers cannot be exempted.

This time around though, the explanation could be that he arrived at a much smaller airport and by a private jet and managed to trigger the same action. The officials at White Plains, which is also known as the Westchester County Airport, had no choice once the red flags went up but to subject him to the standard procedures.

On the face of it, it may be compelling to argue that even a simple Google search, which shows 43,700,000 results against Khan's name, should have at the very least made the detaining officer question his action and taken much less than nearly two hours to clear him. Such a Google search should have stopped any reasonable immigration officer in their tracks to wonder that for a terrorist, Khan has managed a fantastic cover of being one of the world's biggest movie stars. Unfortunately though, the security parameters have been consciously designed not to adhere to standards of commonsense. They have been designed to be intrusive, as a result of which they do become excessive from time to time.

Perhaps behind creating a security system that depends as much on brute and random logic as intelligent sifting was the deeply embarrassing case of Mohammad Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 terror attacks. In 2005, Navy Captain Scott J. Phillpott, who was in charge of the Pentagon's counterterrorism project codenamed 'Able Danger', created a stir when he said that in January 2000 his team had identified Atta as a member of a Al-Qaeda terror cell operating in Brooklyn, New York. And yet Atta was able to travel in and out of the US unmolested. Atta's lapse was attributed to the fact that he first went by part of his name as Mohamed el-Amir and eventually traveled to the US in June 2000 as Mohammed Atta.
Security experts say that the random selection parameter is designed to make preventive determination more effective. They acknowledge that one of the negative fallouts is that many innocent people get singled out because of this parameter.
 

 

Mayank Chhaya is a US-based writer and commentator. He can be contacted at m@mayankchhaya.net







 



 

 

Home | Top of the Page

Comments

Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of www.ummid.com

Comments powered by DISQUS

i

i

 

 

 

Top Stories

Raj Thackeray's terror-haven: Partymen shocked, Malegaon criticise

Even as the Muslim supporters of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) are shocked over Raj Thackeray's statement that Malegaon - the Muslim dominated town in North Maharashtra, is a safe haven for terrorists, he is receiving flak from the Malegaonians.  »

Malegaon, Bhiwandi safe havens for terrorists: Raj Thackeray

Raj Thackeray challenges Nitish to celebrate Bihar Divas in Mumbai

 

  Most Read

Shah Rukh Khan detained at NYK airport again

Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who has millions of fans in India and around the world, was detained at New York's  »

Indian envoy asked to take up issue with US

Court slams Gujarat, spares Teesta in mass grave case

In a breather for social activist Teesta Setalvad, the Supreme Court Friday stayed all the proceedings against her in a 2002 Gujarat riots case involving exhumation of unidentified bodies  »

 

  News Pick

Jadavpore professor arrested for Mamata cartoons, granted bail

A Jadavpore University professor was arrested for allegedly circulating defamatory cartoons of some Trinamool Congress leaders including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, attracting widespread  »

Professor arrested for circulating Mamata cartoon

Wary of fourth girl child, man poisons wife, daughters

Afraid of having a fourth girl child, a man Friday allegedly poisoned his seven-month pregnant wife and three daughters to death in West Bengal's Burdwan district. Enraged locals beat him up so badly that he later  »

Afreen, Falak and fair vaginas - when will it change for India's women

Hindu groups upset over Chandy for giving IUML fifth ministership

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has come under fire from Hindu social groups besides his own Congress party ever since he gave a fifth ministership to his second biggest ally, the Indian Union Muslim League  »

 

Picture of the Day

Emir of the State of Qatar His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al –Thani and Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser being received by Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas and Corporate Affairs R.P.N. Singh, on their arrival, at Air Force Palam Airport, in New Delhi on April 08, 2012.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

RSS  |  Contact us

 

| Quick links

News

 

Subscribe to

Ummid Assistant

 

National

Science & Technology

RSS

Scholarships

About us

International

Health

Twitter

Government Schemes

Feedback

Regional

History

Facebook

Education

Register

Politics

Opinion

Newsletter

Contact us

Business

Career

Education

     

 

 

Ummid.com: Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange

Ummid.com is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.

© 2010 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.