More on Ummid: International l National Regional l Politics Sports Religion l History l Culture l Education

 

Jinnah was 'demonised' by India: Jaswant Singh

Free coaching classes for minorities, girls for exams — IIT to IAS

King Khan says he is fine after Newark airport search

India on religious freedom 'watch list': State Dep avoids comment

IMRC to sponsor JIT for Minorities

Jamia teachers protest against 'encounter killings'

Young US adults more politically active, but not more...

Mah assembly election dates to be announced after Aug 22: EC

AYUSH to be integrated with mainstream health services

Rahman to offer free peace concert in Australia

 

Bhopal-based Maulana Azad NIT girds up its loin to bolster sagging image: Bhopal-based Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT) ..... Read Full

Girl students exult again, this time in M. Sc.

   

Deliver to citizen lost in maze of multiple agencies, Prez to Govt.: in her address to the nation on the eve of Independence Day, the President urged the nation to be prepared to face any situation arising out of poor monsoon..... Read Full

PM's Independence Day Speech, 2009: Today is most certainly a day of happiness and pride for us. We are proud of our freedom. We are proud of our democracy. We are proud of our values and ideals. But we should also..... Read Full

NHRC probe into Batla house shootout not fair: NGO: The probe by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which gave a clean chit to the police in a south Delhi shootout last year, "was not fair", an NGO told the Delhi High Court Wednesday.....Read Full

Singing ‘Vande Mataram’ no taboo for Muslim BJP leaders: Singing "Vande Mataram" is no taboo for Muslim leaders associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party, (BJP). This was amply on display when BJP's Minorities.....Read Full

The ‘Practical Work’ of the Ulema: It has become something of a fashion for people today to constantly criticize and even condemn the traditional madrasa-educated ulema. Not just non-Muslims but many Muslims themselves.... Read Full

 
   

 

Black flags rule the Golden Night in Malegaon:  The day witnessed dharna, the night saw special prayers as the 2006 blast anniversary peacefully reaches the fag end. Unlike thousands of other towns in the Indian .... Read Full

Anger against State, ATS refuses to die down Thousands thronged Janata Dal (S) rally and dharna, Malegaon Bandh call received mixed response: Thousands thronged the rally.....Read Full

Girl students exult again, this time in M. Sc.: After SSC, HSC and UPSC exams, the girl students extended their winning streak yet again by securing the top two slots in the list of the successful students in M. Sc. exams......Read Full

Gujrat HC orders probe into Ishrat Jahan encounter case: In a significant development, the Gujarat High Court on Friday directed the state government to submit a list of police officers of the rank of Additional...... Read Full

Rethinking the Dalit Muslim Movement: The Pasmanda Movement (PM) refers to the contemporary caste/class movement among Indian Muslims. Though the history of caste movements among Muslims can be traced back to the comme..... Read Full

 
   
 
 

 

 

Shah Rukh may have been victim of random selection parameter

Sunday, August 16, 2009 12:46:32 PM, Mayank Chhaya, IANS

King Khan says he is fine after Newark airport search: Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan on Saturday said that he was doing well and was fine after his two-hour-long ordeal at Newark... Read Full

Chicago: Actor Shah Rukh Khan's two-hour detention and questioning at the Newark International Airport could well be a result of the random selection parameter built into the US immigration's security system rather than racial profiling.

 

Now whether that parameter was designed deliberately to focus on people of certain names, religion, background, nationality or race is a different story altogether. 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 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, it 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. As a matter of fact, he only recently finished a shooting schedule of his latest film "My Name is Khan", which ironically deals with the kind of stereotyping and profiling that he just experienced.

 

Isn't the Bureau's database designed in a way where the immigration officer, who detained Khan, could have instantly pulled up the actor's record and known about his many past visits? Apparently not, because once the system randomly selects someone it is expected of the officer in question to go through the standard procedure of detention for questioning.

 

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 Bureau 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.

 

Forget the Bureau's own database; a simple Google search of Khan's name would have at the very least made the detaining officer question his action. There are 3,610,000 search results of his name on Google. Depending on when it is searched this number is sometimes even higher. 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.

 

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 counter-terrorism project codenamed 'Able Danger', created a stir when he said in January 2000 his team had identified Atta as a member of an 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 travelled to the US in June 2000 as Mohammed Atta.

 

The result of the security churning that followed 9/11 was the compilation of a list of nearly 1.1 million names who were either terror suspects or people of interest by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 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.

 

An internal audit report recently quoted by The Washington Times underscored the failures in managing the list. It said there were at least 10 people who should have been kept out of the US according to the list but were allowed to enter while there were many more who should not have been on it but remain there.

 

It quoted Democratic Senator Patrick J. Leahy, who as the chairman of the Judiciary Committee has oversight of the FBI, as saying "that the FBI continues to fail to place subjects of terrorism investigations on the watch list is unacceptable".

 

"Disturbingly, (the) report reveals that in 72 percent of the cases, the FBI has also failed to remove subjects from the list in a timely manner. ... Given the very real and negative consequences to which people on the watch list are subjected, this is unacceptable."

 

It is not clear whether Khan's name is on this list or not but the fact he showed up on the immigration's database it is conceivable that a similar name is on it. However, it should be rather easy for the law enforcement agencies to specifically exclude someone of Khan's global recognition from such a list.

 

Now that 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. For some reason once a person gets on the FBI watch list it is very difficult to get off. The Washington Times story said some 65,000 names were audited and more than a third of it were outdated.

 

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. They also point out that when the national threat index is higher the system is designed to become less discriminating. In simple terms, during heightened alerts it is possible that the system will sweep up many more people with a set of specific names and backgrounds than it would normally do.

 

According to the Department of Homeland Security, for all domestic and international flights, the current US threat level is High, or Orange, which is just below the highest Red. That may partly explain how the actor was singled out because of his name. It is a form of profiling based on many parameters such as names, religion, ethnicity and nationality.

 

As Khan acknowledged the immigration officials were polite but the question is not one of etiquette but effectiveness. Khan managed to stir up those who matter because of who he is. Lesser mortals might have had to go through a more nerve-racking experience once red flags go up against their names and they are asked to step aside at the immigration counter.

 

Mayank Chhaya is the editor of South Asia Daily in the US. He can be contacted at m@literateworld.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Bookmark and Share

Home | Top of the Page

Your Ad Here

  Comment on this article

Name:

E-mail Address:

Write here...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) Who devised a Secure World

France's Encounter with Pharaoh Ramesses

In 1905 more than 100 years from today, when Iqbal was a lecturer at the Government College, Lahore he was invited by his student Lala Hardayal to preside over a function. Instead of making a speech, Iqbal sang....Read Full

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad - Preacher of the Peace and Harmony

 

Saudi King calls for Interfaith Dialogue: The Saudi king has made an impassioned plea for dialogue among Muslims, Christians and Jews — the first such proposal from a nation with no diplomatic ties to Israel and a ban on non-Muslim religious services and...Read Full

Introducing Islam

 

 

 
 
 

Ummid.com: Home | Contact Us | Disclaimer | Terms of Use | About Us | Feedback

Ummid Business: Advertise with us | Careers | Link Exchange

Ummid.com is part of 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 condition mentioned.