The Obama administration yesterday ordered tighter airline screening to stop passengers on the “no-fly” list from boarding, a move that came after the suspected Times Square bomber nearly left the country on a Dubai-bound flight.
Airlines will have to re-check passenger manifests against the list — banning people from flying inside the United States as well as to and from the country — within two hours of notification of a special circumstance about a person, an administration official said.
Prior to the change they were required to do the check within 24 hours, a loophole that may have enabled Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American accused in the failed New York car bombing, to board an Emirates flight late on Monday.
Shahzad had bought a ticket Monday and boarded the flight at New York’s John F. Ken-nedy International Airport despite having been added to the no-fly list earlier in the day. The cabin door was closed as authorities were in pursuit.
When U.S. authorities searched the car he drove to the airport, they found a handgun that he had purchased in March. Shahzad was not on any terrorism watch lists at that time.
A report released Monday by the investigative arm of Congress found that over the last six years, 91 percent of individuals who were on various U.S. watch lists and had undergone background checks to buy firearms or explosives were permitted to make such purchases.