Faulty names result in grounding of flights

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If you are considering naming your new born and as any parent would have, desire your child to grow up and be an integral part of this global village, be warned.

Reports from France indicate that a “wrong” name could land your child in huge trouble.

Air France grounded three transatlantic flights over Christmas, based on FBI information that in one case confused a child’s name with a suspected “terrorist”, according to the Wall Street Journal Europe.

Citing French officials, the newspaper said that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had given French police a list of six names and information that “terrorists” were planning to hijack an Air France jet.

When French intelligence agents detained the passengers on the Paris-LA flights with names matching those on the list, instead of excitedly hoping to nab the head of a Tunisian-based group –” banned by the US as a terrorist organization – they were embarrassed and deeply disappointed.

The name matching that of the alleged terrorist was a toddler!

Another so-called “terrorist” turned out to be a Welsh insurance agent while a third was an elderly Chinese woman. The balance of three others on the list were French citizens.

This bizarre episode is no longer funny. Nor is it an exception. The US government raised its national security alert to the second highest level, code Orange, before the Christmas holidays, and imposed flight restrictions over New York, Las Vegas and other US cities.

In addition, in its mode as the world’s supreme police agency, the US has insisted that all flights to and from America, must have armed guards on board. Again, in a unilateral fashion –” characteristic of the Bush Administration –” the neo-cons in control of US policies have bypassed international aviation treaties to impose their will on the rest of the world.

To-date South Africa’s national airline SAA, has refused to comply with these demands. However, given that Johnny de Lange of the Ministry of Justice viewed the introduction of special anti-terror laws as an obligation flowing from what amounted to be unsigned treaties, it will not surprise one if similar arguments are raised to force SAA to comply.

In any event, while Wolfowitz & Co are engaged in developing sophisticated techniques to marshall the aviation resources of the world, the question of names still persists.

Muslims are especially vulnerable for their names would be considered a travel risk. Since Osama bin Laden has not been captured yet, it is certain that persons bearing his name and dressed in the attire made famous by constant TV footage of bin Laden would face repeated interrogation at international airports. After all it is well documented that ethnic profiling of Muslim travelers have become a normal racist practise at most American airports.

So while I contemplate whether to advise my nephew Osama Chothia to find the nearest office of Minister Buthelezi’s Home Affairs in order to seek a name-change, I do have a tip for book publishers: A huge market of prospective parents awaits your publication of names of the more than 400 individuals listed as “terrorist” by the US State Department.

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