Screening a Terrorist

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The September 11th attack highlights just how volatile security can be to terrorist attacks. Our safety has become a critical concern and the desire for security is now more pervasive than ever.

Countries around the world are taking effective measures in combating acts of terrorism to ensure safety for their population. However, terrorism itself is an ambiguous word. Taking these preventative steps in screening a terrorist is like finding a needle in a haystack.

What is a Terrorist?

Unfortunately there is no international agreement on the definition of a terrorist. Countries, conventions, organizations, the public, and the media all have differing opinions. Even the UN itself cannot define terrorism and class who or what defines a terrorist. The lack of a legally binding definition of a terrorist poses a major obstacle to organizations and governments, hindering them to take meaningful counter-effective measures without discriminating or violating one’s human rights. Regardless, cracking down on terrorism is crucial to our safety.

The Screening Process

How can we justify and class who is a terrorist and who is not? It’s quite a difficult task. Nevertheless, governments need to take these preventative steps with airport security being their first line of defense against terrorism. Controversially, innovations in technology including America’s Advanced Imaging Technology have aided our desire for security at the expense of strenuous security checks. Moreover, profiling these potential terrorists based upon their characteristics is unjustifiable on all levels. Skin colors, facial features and clothing are becoming factors to the selection — a concern to many victims of racial profiling.

The Role of GA6

The delegates in General Assembly 6 at THIMUN Qatar 2014 are trying to develop an international consensus on the definition of terrorist. Deputy chair, Dialla Jandali, believes by not having an international consensus on terrorism, states will have their own definition and thus their own method of treatment of terrorist groups. Examples of this are seen in reported tortures within Ghraib Prison in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. By having one definition, Jandali believes “states can develop unified measures on how to combat terrorism.”

To the delegate of Yemen, finding an international definition on terrorism is “crucial” because there are terrorist groups in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula. By having a unified definition, “Yemen will be able to further its progress in combatting terrorism.” However, the delegate of the USA argues that by having one definition, it can inflict fear upon specific ethnic groups without validation and hopes that we “must try our best to diminish such an idea.”

Are these Security Checks Worth It?

Questions arise in the general public whether these security checks are worth it. Some say that TSA’s Advanced Imaging Technology, which bounces electromagnetic waves off the body and thus exposes our body, is too much of a security measure. Moreover screening the wrong person is becoming a usual encounter in many airports, with innocent victims being stopped and frisked by airport security, leaving them embarrassed and offended. However, if these security checks save the lives of many, then perhaps questioning nationality, intentions or having bags thoroughly checked and told to take off shoes shouldn’t be a problem, rather a necessity for our safety.

By Afif Haitsam
Photo By Jeneane