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Thursday, June 24, 2010

What Does a Terrorist Look Like?

My friend, Grace, just returned from a trip to Texas to visit her grandchildren with a hair rising story. She had extended her original plans to stay a week, causing her to book a one way flight back home to New Mexico. She told me she was picked out and searched by security officials simply because she was only traveling one way. Although she had nothing to hide, the experience really shook her up.

She was so upset she forgot to retrieve her cell phone. Fortunately her daughter chose to call about that time to make sure she had checked in. The call was answered by an official who was nice enough to locate her mother and return the phone to her. Grace did say the security people were very nice while performing their duty.

I relayed the story to my daughter who is traveling by air this weekend to another state. She had a story of her own that I was not aware of. Several years ago, which would make her twenty something, she had checked in for a flight and was killing time before boarding by quietly reading a book in the waiting area. Out of the blue, there was a tap on her shoulder and a security officer asked, “Are you traveling alone?” When she said yes, she was instructed, “Follow me.”

She was not only searched, but every single thing that was in her luggage was taken out and examined. She gave the officials cause for laughter because she had trouble repacking. Again my daughter said the security people were nice to her. The best part was they let her board the plane before the other passengers.

I realize that airport security needs to be tightened for everyone’s safety, but both of these stories were a little ridicules in my opinion. There have been instances of airlines allowing passengers who are actually on security watch lists to board. I don’t understand why an elderly lady (sorry Grace just trying to make a point!) and a young unassuming girl would be searched for any reason other than unruly conduct.

Perhaps all passengers are assumed to be dangerous until proven otherwise. I wonder, what does a terrorist look like anyway?

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