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DateLine Saturday, 11 August 2007

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US tightens air passenger screening

UNITED STATES: US officials announced plans to tighten screening of air passengers against terrorist watch-lists, as part of continued efforts to increase security in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security said it would now start collecting manifest information for international flights leaving from and arriving in the United States prior to boarding, rather than once the flight has taken off.

In addition, the department would take over screening of domestic passengers currently vetted by the airlines themselves. The changes were recommendations of an official commission of inquiry into the September 11, 2001 attacks, in which Al-Qaeda operatives hijacked four US airlines and forced them to crash.

“Stopping known threats before they board an aircraft, whether domestically or internationally, is a critical security measure,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a statement, unveiling the changes.

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