- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 5, 2010

LONDON | Airline passengers bound for the United States faced a hodgepodge of security measures across the world Monday, but most European airports did not appear to be following a new U.S. demand for increased screening of passengers from 14 countries.

U.S. officials in Washington said the new security measures would be implemented Monday, but there were few visible changes on the ground in Europe, which sends thousands of passengers on hundreds of daily flights to the United States.

In addition, few if any changes in airline procedures were reported in the 14 countries named by the U.S. as security risks, although officials in Saudi Arabia said extra security personnel had been placed at the airport.

No changes were seen Monday at international airports in Syria, Algeria, Libya or Lebanon, four other countries on the list.

“Everything is the same, there is no extra security,” an aviation official in Lebanon said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

The changes ordered by President Obama’s administration followed the arrest of a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who allegedly tried to set off an explosive device on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day. Mr. Abdulmutallab is at a federal prison in Milan, Mich., and faces a court hearing Friday.

The new rules led to long security lines in Nigeria at Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed International Airport, where some travelers were told to show up more than seven hours ahead of a Delta Air Lines direct flight to Atlanta.

“Whatever it takes to keep passengers safe, I’m all for it,” said Emeka Ojukwu, 46, a Nigerian who now lives in New York state. “It’s really a bad rap for the country. This is the last thing Nigeria needs.”

Asian airports had already ratcheted up security after the Christmas Day attack, but those in South Korea and Pakistan took additional measures.

Yet Europe remains the key crossroads for air travelers heading to the United States, with more than 800 scheduled trans-Atlantic flights a day in 2009, especially from major hubs such as London, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt, Germany.

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport was using 15 full-body scanners on flights to the U.S., and Dutch officials announced Monday they will buy 60 more scanners. In Oslo, U.S.-bound passengers had to show their passports and boarding passes twice at the gate, get their carry-ons searched and go through full body pat-downs.

Yet other European nations were still studying the new U.S. rules.

U.S. authorities said as of Monday anyone traveling from or through nations regarded as state sponsors of terrorism — as well as “other countries of interest” — will be required to go through enhanced screening.

The U.S. State Department lists Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria as state sponsors of terrorism. The U.S. said other countries whose passengers should face enhanced screening include Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.

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