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SECURING AMERICA, STRENGTHENING ISRAEL

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Colbert Discusses Aviation Security on Russian Television, 1/5/10

Appearing on RTVi Russian-language television news January 5, 2010, JINSA Communications Director Jim Colbert discussed the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Delta Airlines flight 253 and, drawing on lessons learned by Israel, what could have been done to prevent it. RTVi is an international Russian-language television network with studios in Moscow, New York and Tel Aviv, and bureaus in Washington D.C., Berlin and Kiev. RTVi broadcasts by satellite and cable in Europe, North America, Israel and the countries of the former Soviet Union.

During the interview, Colbert discussed airline and airport security measures used in Israel and contrasted them with those used elsewhere in the world including the United States. Colbert highlighted Israeli security protocols that likely would have detected the something was amiss about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab well before he boarded the airplane in the Netherlands. The Israeli strategy of identifying suspicious persons contrasts sharply with U.S. and international procedures that are narrowly focused on finding hidden explosives or weapons. In the wake of this near tragedy, Colbert noted that U.S. agencies, some of which had prior knowledge that Abdulmutallab was associated with radical Muslim groups, failed to share this information and still suffer from a lack of coordination in their counter-terrorist efforts. Such failures hearken back to the pre-9/11 period.

While noting that Israeli methods, based on detecting suspicious behavior, can be adopted, Colbert noted that not all of the Israeli counter-terrorist lessons are applicable to the United States. For one, the sheer size of the American airport and air travel system is so large encompassing hundreds of international airports that also serve as transit hubs for connecting flights.

Colbert noted that JINSA, under the aegis of its Law Enforcement Exchange Program (LEEP), annually brings American police chiefs, sheriffs, and federal agents to Israel to study methods and observe techniques used in preventing and reacting to acts of terrorism. In addition, Colbert said, LEEP also hosts two-day conferences in America where select Israeli experts lecture to several hundred police officers at a time. To date, he said, more than 9,500 law enforcement officials have participated in these conferences.

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