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Under new rules prompted by a failed attempt to blow up an American jetliner on Christmas Day, foreign air travelers coming to the United States from 14 nations are being asked to undergo extra security screening.
Four countries on the list – Syria, Cuba, Iran and Sudan -- are considered state sponsors of terrorism, governments that have been found to have repeatedly given support for acts of international terrorism. Ten others -- Algeria, Libya, Somalia and Nigeria in Africa -- are seen as countries of interest, where air travel is deemed to be at greater risk of abuse by known and potential terrorists who target American citizens and interests. The list will be reviewed regularly and modified as circumstances and risk assessments allow.
Nigerian officials say the new screening requirements are unfair to their countrymen. The would-be bomber, a Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was recruited and trained for the attack elsewhere, they say, and isn't reflective of Nigeria and shouldn't be used as a measure to judge all Nigerians. They also note their country has tightened its own air security procedures in response to the incident.
New U.S. air security measures, however, aren't intended to stigmatize the citizens of any particular nation on the list. They respond to a specific incident and heightened threat, as did measures taken after the September 11, 2001, terror strikes on New York City and Washington D.C. Because of the added level of security they impose, they also benefit air passengers from those nations who may be at risk from similar incidents.
Indeed, the new requirements include long-term, sustainable measures developed in consultation with law enforcement officials in many nations, recognizing that effective aviation security must transcend borders