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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Profiling, a weapon against terrorism

Alex Alves Pereira, cousin of Jean Charles de Menezes, the guy who was mistakenly shot to death in the London tube, said he was angry over the police, and that's understandable.

What's less understandable is that he also complained because London police shouldn't have mistakenly thought he was a terrorist, because he didn't look as Arab or Pakistani or Bangladeshi (Hat tip: Chrenkoff).

How could they have confused and killed a light-skinned person who had no resemblance at all to an Asian?


His cousin should not have been bothered by the police because he was Caucasian.

Everyone should be searched or questioned by police, regardless of ethnicity, nobody should be exempt from police checks, as de Menezes's cousin implies.

But racial/religious profiling to search for terrorists is a powerful tool in the fight against terrorism.

I suggest you to check this article on the profiling subject:


A good profiling system would take into account the fact you're Arab or Arab-looking, that you have a Muslim name (100 percent of al-Qaida members are Muslims, by the way), you're the right age and gender, and if you've been to Pakistan or Saudi Arabia in the last year or so, in which case you probably deserve some extra attention.

(...)

when the FBI revised its Most Wanted list after Sept. 11, everyone on the roster was Arabic.


Obviously racial/religious profiling is not the "silver bullet": there have been Al-Qaeda terrorists that did not fit into these profiles:
John Walker Lindh, Caucasian American, Richard Reid, British citizen of Jamaican heritage, Jose Padilla, Hispanic.

The clearest proof that profiling works is that al-Qaida is using agents who don't fit the standard profile.
When your enemy has to abandon its most plentiful weapons -in this case, suicidal Arab murderers -because you've learned to defend against them, that's good news.
Obviously, al-Qaida has a lot more Arabs than Hispanics.
But, they've rightly concluded that Hispanics would have an easier time making it through our defenses.
They're right, of course, which is why profiling alone isn't an all-purpose tool.
But since when do you abandon a tool because it can't do everything? I can't use my hammer as a screwdriver, but my hammer is still pretty useful.


Profiling is what NYC police is not doing and should do after blasts happened in London a few days ago, as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced:


People who do not submit to a search will be allowed to leave, but will not be permitted into the subway station. The police commissioner said officers would take pains to avoid singling people out for searches based on race or ethnicity.

"No racial profiling will be allowed," Mr. Kelly said. "It's against our policies. But it will be a systematized approach."


"Systematized approach" means "PC approach", that is, elders and toddlers, men and women, whoever will be searched, intentionally with NO method at all.

And those who refuse to undergo bag searches will be absurdly allowed to leave.