Nine years ago, one of the most horrific and unimaginable acts of terrorism was carried out in the United States, as four passenger planes were hijacked and used as deadly missiles. Two of the planes were flown into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon, and the other into a remote field in Pennsylvania, killing almost 3,000 innocent citizens, including people from at least 90 countries (Walker). The shocking and heinous acts of these cowardly extremist terrorists shook the country, as well as the rest of the world, to the core, as Americans struggled with the harsh reality of vulnerability. The attacks by these suicidal mass murderers not only took the lives of thousands of innocent victims, forever changing their families, but threatened the much universal ideals and rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that people of the United States held so dear.
Within a matter of 72 hours after the deadly attacks, the FBI was able to identify the suspects involved, 19 in total, revealing their names and other information, all being of Arabic and Muslim descent (Federal Bureau of Investigation). It became known later that the suspects were in fact, Islamic extremists, who were intent on killing as many Americans as they could, all in the name of Allah, their God.
After September 11, 2001, it was clear that our nation was not prepared for such a devastating attack on U.S. soil, and a new terror had emerged, more deadly and dangerous than ever before. Security measures that were currently in place failed miserably, and as a result a heavy price was paid by thousands of innocent mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters.
Although some will argue that racial profiling by our nation's airports and airline security is a blatant infringement and violation upon basic God-given rights and autonomy, this type of profiling is very much necessary in today's world of deadly terrorist attacks and threats to our country and its American citizens because the facts clearly show that Muslim extremists have been responsible for the majority of these attacks on the United States, as well as 95% of the terrorist acts committed throughout the world (Winn).
As stated by Jane Garvey, the former head of the Federal Aviation Administration before the 9/11 Commission, "On September 10 we were not a nation at war. On September 10, we were a nation bedeviled by delays, concerned about congestion, and impatient to keep moving," she testified ("National Commission"). Indeed, the last thing on anyone's mind that morning was a nightmare of such gigantic proportions and deadly consequences.
Prior to 9/11, our aviation security was limited and deficient in its role, with less than $200 million dollars a year in federal government spending, and most of that geared toward passenger aviation rather than possible terrorist threats (Johnstone 1). The majority of attention and security resources were spent on overseas risks and dangers rather than at home in our own country.
Many changes were made to current airport security systems and procedures as a direct result of these attacks. For example, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created, and federal employees were mandated to be placed in charge of airport screening. Other measures implemented were stricter and more thorough passenger and baggage screening, mandatory x-ray and metal detector checks, explosive detection systems, terror watch lists and prescreening of passengers, along with placement of undercover armed Federal Air Marshals on flights, to name just a few (Kaplan). Currently, the annual budget for TSA is a staggering $8 billion, adding up to tens of billions of dollars now being spent for our safety since 9/11 ("Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman").
Even with so much money being devoted to aviation security, there have been several attempted attacks and plots involving American commercial airplanes and Muslim extremists who fell through the cracks. Take for instance the shoe bomber Richard Reid, who attempted to detonate a bomb on a flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001 (Elliott). Another attempted plot in December 2009 involved Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a plane traveling to Detroit using explosives hidden in his underwear (Hosenball et al.).
Similarly, there have also been deadly plots directed at the United States that were fortunately thwarted by security. This includes the 2006 plot to blow up at least 10 passenger jets simultaneously, traveling from London to the U.S., and masterminded by at least 24 Al Qaeda operatives, many of British-born Muslim descent (Cowell and Filkins). If successful, it would have rivaled the attacks of September 11 on a grand scale.
With these facts in mind, it is important to note that the United States has not been the only country targeted and attacked by such radical and extreme Muslim terrorists, and includes one of our staunchest allies-Israel, who has experienced terror-related violence and bloodshed for over half a century (Sog).
However, a striking difference can be observed between the two countries and aviation security, and is worthy of pointing out. Because of Israel's much stricter airline security measures that have been adopted at Ben-Gurion Airport located in Tel Aviv, there has not been a successful terrorist attack since 1968 against their civil aviation system and Israeli citizens (Fleener 18). How can this possibly be? One distinct difference is clearly evident and essential; racial profiling techniques have been successfully used and incorporated by Israel in screening of their airline passengers for over forty years now, much unlike the U.S. (19).
Furthermore, research studying Israel's success in reducing terror-related violence was attributed in part to their "comprehensive security plan that ultimately looks for the terrorist, not the weapon" (10). This is very dissimilar from the U.S.'s strategy, in which technology is heavily relied on in identifying possible weapons of terrorists instead.
These facts bring up an important question to consider. Would Israel's type of profiling have helped the United States on September 11 and potentially avoided disaster? According to Elisa Ben-Rafael in 2002, the answer was clear, "If U.S. aviation security officials had been trained in the use of racial profiling as in Israel, the 9/11 terrorist attacks may have been completely avoided" (42). A stunning and awakening thought, when so many lives were lost that fateful day.
However, many groups who are opposed to any type of civil liberties violations against American citizens would not be swayed easily to this type of racial profiling, and would view it as discrimination and singling out based on race of an individual instead. To counter this argument, Neri Yarkoni, an aviation expert from Israel emphatically states, "Good profiling is distinction. It's not [sic] a discrimination. And I think that you should profile. If you don't profile, you waste - you waste time, you waste money, and you might miss what you're looking for because you're searching it on the wrong people" (Flight 253 Lessons). Additionally Yarkoni says that "profiling needs to be based not simply on ethnicity, but also on behavior, intelligence gathering and statistics."
Other opponents claim this type of profiling is both ineffective and counterproductive, and uses the example of "Jihad Jane," a blonde haired, blue-eyed white American female who converted to Islam, and used the internet to recruit would-be terrorists to her cause (Johnson). A legitimate argument and point to consider, however, according to Massimo Calabresi, the quick capture and arrest by FBI and U.S. prosecutors "could well have used the Patriot Act's fast access to her cell-phone records, hotel bills and rental-car contracts as they tracked her movements and contacts" (par. 1). Another potential thorn in the side of advocates of civil liberties who have also opposed the Patriot Act's intrusions into American citizen's rights and privacy guaranteed by the Constitution ("Surveillance").
Clearly, it must be emphasized that "nobody is suggesting using ethnicity or religion as the only-or even the primary-factors in profiling terrorists. But it also makes no sense to take zero account of the fact that every suicide attack against U.S. aviation to date has been perpetrated by men of Muslim origin. Al Qaeda is no doubt seeking recruits who do not obviously display such characteristics, which does not mean we should ignore the likeliest candidates" (Kleiner 103).
Indeed, there can be no absolute answer and solution to every possible problem our country is faced with in regard to terrorism. We are not dealing with rational human beings, but those whose ultimate goal is to torture, maim and kill as many American citizens as possible to further their religion and beliefs.
We do know that, "over the course of the last three decades, a number of large-scale prospective studies have convincingly demonstrated that Islamic Jihadis commit a disproportionately large percentage of all serious and violent offenses." In addition, "worldwide Islamic Jihadist offenders accounted for 95 percent of homicide bombings, 89 percent of aggravated assaults and one hundred percent of honorable (dishonorable) killings," according to Dr. Babu Suseelan (par. 6). He continues by saying that, "Since 9/11, Islamic terrorists have carried out more than 13,944 attacks" (par. 7).
With a totality of all of these factors considered and taken into account, the ultimate goal must be one consisting of a balance of people's rights combined with stopping terrorism in its tracks, before it has the ability to cause such widespread death and destruction as in previous attacks on U.S. soil and American citizens. If we choose to ignore the real threats of those who seek to harm our country, under the veil of political correctness, a price most certainly will be paid once again with innocent lives, and the freedoms and liberties this country was founded on will inevitably suffer the consequences.