What US airline security could learn from the Israelis


August 24, 2006, 06:10 AM
International Herald Tribune (http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/08/23/opinion/edjacoby.php) gives a piece of mind on airline security. Very pithy!

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August 24, 2006, 09:37 AM
Of course the Israelis check for bombs and weapons too, but always with the understanding that things don't hijack planes, terrorists do - and that the best way to detect terrorists is to focus on intercepting not bad things, but bad people.

But, if we (Americans) were to engage in profiling, somebody might get their feelings hurt. Sheesh, what a way to fight a war.

August 24, 2006, 10:49 AM
My parents flew to Israel on El Al in 1985 or 1986. My dad was an invited speaker at a pharmaceuticals conference and my mom went along for a vacation. For some reason their hotel and possibly car rental got wrapped up in their ticket and so that total (airfare+week of hotel+car rental) was shown on the ticket. Having such a high dollar amount shown apparently red flagged them to the El Al security. They spent a good hour being interrogated (2 interrogators each essentially asking them the same questions to see if the answers changed), having their suitcases gone through with a fine tooth comb, and whatnot. They must have figured that a couple of white 40ish married Americans were telling the truth and were not a threat since they were allowed to get on the plane.

Until the American airlines start doing something similar the ability to stop terrorist attacks on our airlines will be more a matter of luck than anything else.

August 24, 2006, 10:58 AM
I cant see how the american airline industry will survive with this.

August 25, 2006, 01:50 AM
I cant see how the american airline industry will survive with this

<sarcasm>Who cares! As long as I can carry my Swiss army knife and bottle of water onboard, all else is moot!</sarcasm>

August 25, 2006, 11:47 AM
But, if we (Americans) were to engage in profiling, somebody might get their feelings hurt.

"Screen all persons that appear suspect. And yes, unfortunately, most terrorists these days are Muslims.

/Starting statistical reasoning module (using Bayes' theorem)

Priors (rounded):
P(Muslim) = .20 (Probability that you are a Muslim, regarding world population)
p(Christian) = .40
P(Buddhist) = .10
P(terrorist) = .0001

Conditional probabilities:
P(Buddhist¦terrorist) = .001 (Probability that you are a Buddhist given you are a terrorist, regarding world population)
P(Christian¦terrorist) = .001
P(Muslim¦terrorist) = .80


P(terrorist¦religion) = [P(religion¦terrorist) x P(terrorist)] / P(religion)

(Probability you have a certain religion, given you are a terrorist)


P(terrorist¦Muslim) = .80 x .0001 / .20 = .004
P(terrorist¦Christian) = .001 x .0001 / .40 = .0000025
P(terrorist¦Buddhist) = .001 x .0001 / .10 = .000001


P(terrorist¦Muslim) / P(terrorist¦Christian) = 16000

/end statistical reasoning module

Using the mentioned priors, the probability that you are a terrorist if you are a Muslim is 16000 times higher than if you are a Christian. The priors are assumptions in this case (e.g., 80% of terrorists are Muslim); it could be easily researched how many terrorists were Muslim, Christian or Buddhist (same goes for religious affiliation). If someone has the data, it could be recalculated.

Just think about it. And profiling."



August 25, 2006, 11:49 AM
Some good points and bad points in the article:


--Trained observers to watch for suspicious behavior
--Verbally engaging passengers waiting in line, seeing who starts sweating and who looks bored.


--Racial profiling. I AM NOT saying that for P.C. reasons, I simply think that it is impractical on several strategic levels:

1) If we allow American citizen Muslim men to be shaken down wherever they go, every airport, entering every public building, getting on the subway, that plays right into the hands of extremists: "See, the Americans don't accept you, their democracy is a lie, they hate your Islamic religion and refuse to accept you no matter how hard you work!"

2) If someone wants to stage an attack, and the U.S. has clearly begun racial profiling, they're not dumb enough to send a Jordanian with an Arabic name and a full beard. They'll send:

-A Tajik in a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops (my Tajik Muslim friend always gets mistaken for Italian)

- a Muslim Filipina woman, who can take off her veil and look just like a Catholic Filipina woman

-An Iranian Shiite out of Gilan or Mozandaran province, with sandy blond hair and blue eyes, like that one really hot waitress at my local kebab place.

-Sally Smith, who converted to radical Islam two years ago to rebel against her upper-middle-class Lutheran parents.

If the U.S. allows racial profiling of U.S. citizens, it's just one more step towards a totalitarian nation, and alienates law-abiding U.S. citizens (including "foreign-looking" non-Muslims like Sikhs, Arab Christians, etc). Such profiling will set terrorist groups plans back by a couple weeks while they ask around to find an agent who doesn't fit the profile.

I expect this post will get me the usual "You're brainwashed by P.C. thinking, you don't know what the War on Terror is really like!" or the usual "It's easy, I can pick a Muslim out of a crowd at a hundred paces!" If you disagree, feel free to critique any individual point in my argument.

I like L&P, it's the one forum where we can really get a rough-house debate going.


August 25, 2006, 05:23 PM

I don't think you are brainwashed, though I disagree wth you.

The fact is, most islamic terrorists will fit a certain profile and race is part of that profile.

You mention a few of the outlyers, statistically speaking. Yes, they are possible, but the probabilities still lie with what we have seen:
age 18-45
ME origin
decent finances (enough to travel, etc)

Of course, we don't want to eliminate immediate observation and human judgement in favor of a list. I don't think anyone is advocating that.

More & more of the tangos are being recruited from western contries, as the west is probably the easiest place to foment terror & plan operations. But, those tangos are usually the recent immigrants or sons of muslim immigrants. Very few are of western decent.

A sober and responsible approach would use the facts as they have been presented, play the probabilities, and be mindful of the rare curve ball that might be thrown.

August 25, 2006, 09:39 PM
@ jfruser:

I do agree that many current terrorists fit a certain profile, but recall that even at this early stage of minimal profiling, we've already had one nearly successful plane bombing by a Hispanic Muslim.

If we shook down every single Middle Eastern male, terrorist groups would very quickly change their martyrdom-candidate requirements.

age 18-45
ME origin
decent finances (enough to travel, etc)

Check on 1-3, so far.

So far as #4, one major attempt by a Hispanic American, and both the London bombings and the alleged "binary liquid" plane bombing attempts were primarily carried out by British-born Pakistanis (and no, Pakistan is not part of the Middle East)

So far as #5: I'd be _far_ more worried about the folks who are traveling who _don't_ have decent finances. A textile exporter out of Karachi flying business class isn't as worrisome as the first-time-flier out of the Northwest Frontier Provinces of Pakistan who somehow managed to buy a $1,200 ticket on a truck-driver's salary.

Some of the profiling stuff gets dang silly. I know American Sikhs with stories of terribly treatment, including being physically tackled by airline staff, from people who can't tell Sikhs from Muslims.

Likewise, two friends of mine barely talked their way out of a 911 call at Starbucks, when a customer complained about "two Arab males talking about blowing up the Tel Aviv airport." In actuality, the two of them were discussing the Hezbollah rocket attacks on CNN, and the two college kids were Jewish Israeli and an Assyrian Christian.

Again, I am all for replacing the current goat-rope system with one based on using actual trained observers. Perhaps the same kind of folks who watch for scammers in casinos? Same principle at work. But just taking our current "take off your shoes, dispose of your nail clippers" system and adding a "hassle dark skinned men" to the instruction list isn't going to make things better.


White Horseradish
August 27, 2006, 01:17 AM
MatthewVanitas, you also left out Croatian Muslims who look plain white and Black American Muslims who look, well, American.

August 27, 2006, 03:10 AM
The difference is that the Israelis are skilled professionals who actually have to reduce risk on a limited budget. The Americans are run by publicity-crazed political hacks whose main purpose is to make the public feel they are doing something. The rest follows from that.

August 27, 2006, 03:43 AM
waht if everyone on the plane was ISSUED a 380 pistol with those frangable bullets and -P. no one would be able to hijack a plane unless they bought the majority of the seats. you dont get off the plane till you give back the gun.

obviously almost logical enough to work, but not practical. but that would start to limit what PEOPLE can do. ( box cutters ect) and would have to focus on what THINGS can do ( shoe bombs, this BS Binary explosive hoax)

August 27, 2006, 03:58 AM
Obviously one of the stupidest ideas anyone has ever come up with for airline security. Every drunken yob, every whackjob, every criminal with poor impulse control and every potential terrorist would be able to shoot up hundreds of tightly packed people who couldn't run away. You might as well hold tapdancing competitions in a minefield.

August 27, 2006, 05:33 AM
When discussing the El Al model, we have to keep a few things in mind.


El Al flies very few flights and most of them are long hauls. From Tel Aviv to somewhere and from somewhere back to Tel Aviv. Not like here in the U.S. where we have TONS of puddle jumper runs and lots of short and medium length flights. I think the shortest hop El Al flies is Tel Aviv to Cairo--about 255 miles as the crow flies. The number I often hear kicked around is over 25K flights depart everyday in the U.S.

El Al has armed security aboard, and let's indulge our fantasies that every U.S. flight has Air Marshals aboard who are every bit as capable as El Al employs. Some have estimated it would take an Air Marshal Service the size of the U.S. Marine Corps to put 'em on every flight, but we leave that one lie for now.

Care to guess the size of El Al's fleet of planes?
Answer: 31 passenger planes, 4 cargo planes

El Al pilots are Israeli Air Force veterans, and I'm given to understand one must pass thru two locked reinforced doors to reach the cockpit. There are claims both ways about whether the pilots carry guns in the cockpit.

El Al flight crew are trained in hand to hand combat and most have served in the IDF.

Passengers on an El Al flight must check in 3 hours before one's flight departure time. Americans whine about having to be there an hour before.

El Al used to be heavily subsidized by the Israeli government, but it has been privatizing.

August 27, 2006, 11:55 AM
I think that we have already "learned" to much from the Israelies and that is the major cause of the predicament that the US is in today.:D :neener:

Talk about what great warriors and etc that they are, just wonder how they would hold up against an enemy who had similiar weapons to replace their sticks and rocks? Their security??? bombings and etc an almost daily occurance with them doing about 10 to 1 against the others--including the United STates.:cuss:

Art Eatman
August 27, 2006, 12:49 PM
BIGJACK, the IDF already BTDT. 1967; 1973.


Phantom Warrior
August 27, 2006, 01:08 PM
On the tails of Art's post...


Check out Wikipedia's page on Israel's wars here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_Israel).

I recommend reading about the 1948 war (that's where the Arabs invaded before the new state of Israel had time to fully arm itself) and the 1973 Yom Kippur War (that's the one that comes closest to an Arab victory).

Israel has pretty much trounced any and all enemies in open warfare. Perhaps why you see more terrorism today than open war. I think the changes in the international community probably have something to do with that too, in fairness.

August 27, 2006, 01:12 PM
Talk about what great warriors and etc that they are, just wonder how they would hold up against an enemy who had similiar weapons to replace their sticks and rocks?

Other countries have been saying the same thing about the USA for years. All we ever REALY do is bomb a few dozen farmers with little or no training, and then sweep in with 10 - 1 odds in our favor.

What if WE had to fight another PROFESIONAL military like the UK/Russia/Germany/China/ N Korea? I know the general arogant responce is "HAHAHA WE WOULD CRUSH ANY OTHER MILITARTY HAHAHA" but would we? O sure, our superior technology, training, and resources would give us the edge that would LIKELY result in out "victory", but the price would be so high that nobody would be able celebrate.

August 27, 2006, 01:23 PM
Who cares! As long as I can carry my Swiss army knife and bottle of water onboard, all else is moot!

Actually, I was thinking just this but with out any sarcasm.

As long as I can take my water and my Glock, I would rather take my chances against all those terrorists who seemingly are behind every tree and BUSH in America.

What we really need to do is just let all the airlines go out of bussness, then let the .gov come in and run the show.

More .gov power is what everyone seems to want these days anyway.:mad:

No, I do not want America to be like Israel.

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