April 3, 2004
US to Fingerprint British VisitorsBy Michael Morris
Being half—British myself, it may sound odd, but I am genuinely overjoyed that the US will start fingerprinting and photographing British visitors to America, from September 30th.
This has already kicked up the usual fuss and hyperbole amongst the liberal press here in the UK. The following quote is from today's Guardian:
"It's a matter for them," said a [Foreign Office] spokesman, adding that British officials were working with US counterparts to ensure that the new measures are introduced "with minimum disruption and maximum safety". He did not comment on whether Britain would consider reciprocal measures. Brazil responded to the US requirements by fingerprinting American visitors.
Note that even though the British Foreign Office doesn't seem overly concerned about the US entry requirements, The Guardian's Mark Rice—Oxley cannot resist the temptation of suggesting that perhaps reciprocal measures may be applied to American visitors to the UK. Do as the Brazilians do —— is The Guardian's advice.
What's really interesting is that neither The Guardian nor The BBC mentions any of the very good reasons why the US has now decided to impose these measures on its closest ally in the war on terrorism.
Let's start with the almost infamous shoe—bomber, Richard Reid. He was born in London to English and Jamaican parents; got caught up in petty crime, and spent quite a bit of time in prison until finally converting to Islam. His British passport was as good as any weapon in the hands of a terrorist, as it allowed him a certain exemption from post 9/11 US airline security measures. Strike one.
Next there are the nine British Muslims who were or still are imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. To be fair, one of the five already released, Jamal Udeen, was probably innocent and shouldn't be counted as a threat to the US. In the mucky circumstances during the war in Afghanistan it's unfortunate but understandable that mistakes occurred.
However, that still leaves eight British passport holders who most likely were involved in fighting against American and British troops, or consorting with the enemy. These are clearly dangerous individuals and their British nationality would have given them privileges for the act of entering US territory. Strike nine.
Then we move on to the two British Muslim suicide bombers indoctrinated by Hamas. Asif Hanif, twenty one years old and from London, murdered three Israelis is his attack, though fortunately, twenty seven year old Omar Khan Sharif, from Derby, failed in his murderous attempt and was found dead — all by himself — on an Israeli beach. Israel has rightly been very outspoken in reminding the British government that both these British passport holders got through the security screen because of their nationality. Strike eleven.
Finally, and only in the last few days, British anti—terrorist police have arrested nine British Muslims, most of them born and bred in the UK, and discovered half a ton of fertilizer in a lockup. I'll be conservative — because Conservative I am, after all — and give five of them the benefit of the doubt, and pretend they've been caught up in the net unfairly, and will soon be released without charge. We're still left with four more British passport holders who would probably pose a threat to the safety and welfare of US citizens and assets. Strike fifteen.
And those are just the ones we know about.
Of course, though the UK's liberal media are perfectly aware of all these cases of Islamic
How ironic that it hasn't stopped the BBC from making a huge song and dance about Richard Clark's dubious revelations about the Bush administration not doing enough to prevent 9/11. Oh well —— nothing new there then.
There are a couple of other reasons —— though perhaps nebulous but still significant —— why it's important to screen British passport holders arriving in the US.
For one, it would be disastrous for the 'special relationship' if a further terrorist atrocity in America is found to have been perpetrated by a British subject, be he Muslim or not. The US would be incensed with the UK, and rightly so.
The other positive outcome of these new measures is that maybe, and just maybe, the UK will start strengthening up its rather lax attitude to the various radical Islamist groups operating around the UK, who preach hatred and incite violence against Americans, Christians and Jews. Our liberal society in the UK has tolerated this long enough and unfortunately, it has acted as an incubator for the more radical elements in the British Muslim community.
So as a Brit myself, I welcome these new measures, and in fact, I look forward to them enthusiastically on my next visit to the US.