Meanwhile, the range of explosive devices that terrorists are developing is outstripping the ability of screening systems to catch them. Last August, an alleged suicide bomber who had explosives implanted in his body injured Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef. Even controversial full body scans don’t pick up such hidden devices, Mr. Thomas says.
“To think we’re going to be able to detect all these IEDs [improvised explosive devices] at check points is futile,” he says.
Instead, Thomas says authorities should focus on blocking access to the people most deemed to be a threat, which requires more effective profiling and challenging the TSA approach “that everybody who comes to the airport is treated the same – as a potential terrorist, until they are cleared.”
Cribbing from the Israeli airline model, airline safety specialists are implementing a wide range of behavioral profiling techniques.
“With racial profiling, you’re looking at the wrong thing. Don’t look at race or clothes, look at the person behind the eyes,” says Terry Sheridan, a corporate fraud analyst in Malanga, Australia, who consults with airlines on emotional profiling. “There are flaws there that most people would ignore. Once you’ve got a flaw or an inconsistency or a lie, that’s when all the alarm bells ring.”