Starting today, passengers on U.S.-bound flights face more screening, body scans, pat-downs

WASHINGTON — Beginning Monday, air travelers flying into the United States from Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Yemen and other "countries of interest" will be subjected to enhanced screening techniques, such as body scans, pat-downs and a thorough search of carry-on luggage.

Additionally, all passengers on U.S.-bound international flights will be subject to random screening, the Transportation Security Administration announced Sunday. Airports were also directed to increase "threat-based" screening of passengers who may be acting in a suspicious manner.

The TSA said anyone traveling from or though nations regarded as state sponsors of terrorism — as well as "other countries of interest" — will be required to undergo enhanced screening. The TSA said those techniques include full-body pat-downs, carry-on bag searches, full-body scanning and explosive detection technology.

"The new directive includes long-term, sustainable security measures developed in consultation with law enforcement officials and our domestic and international partners," the TSA said in a statement posted on its Web site.

The new security measures come in response to the failed Christmas Day attempt to bomb a jetliner as it approached Detroit after a flight from Amsterdam.

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

A spokesman for Pakistan International Airline said the company has instituted new security standards for U.S.-bound passengers.

Passengers are subjected to special screening, including full body searches, in a designated area of the departure lounge, said the spokesman, Sultan Hasan. The airline has run advertisements in newspapers to advise passengers of the stepped-up security.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced Sunday that full body scanners would be introduced in British airports and officials in Amsterdam said last week they would begin using the scanners on passengers bound for the U.S.

In the Yemeni capital, security personnel at the San'a airport were ordered to apply strict measures, including careful baggage examinations and patting down travelers, especially those departing for the United States as the final destination, an official said.

The security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to talk about security measures to the media, said the airport was expecting to receive some new equipment to provide better security.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man who allegedly tried to set off an explosive device aboard a Northwest airliner on Christmas Day, has told U.S. investigators he received training and instructions from al-Qaida operatives in Yemen.

The TSA said the ability to enforce the new security measures is the "result of extraordinary cooperation from our global aviation partners."

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On the Net: TSA: www.tsa.gov

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