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Report Says British Government Debating Airline Passenger Profiling

A published report says Britain is considering implementing a controversial system of airline security checks that would allow authorities to focus on passengers believed to pose the greatest risk.

In a report Tuesday, The Times newspaper says the profiling would target people behaving suspiciously. It also would target people with unusual travel patterns and those of certain ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Several top Muslims in London's police department have warned that profiling based on physical appearance would alienate many, if not most, of Britain's 1.5 million Muslims.

Late Monday, London police Chief Superintendent Ali Desai told British television he fears that such profiling would put all Asians under suspicion of terrorism.

Britain's profiling debate has intensified as investigators continue to probe the alleged conspiracy made public last week to bomb U.S.-bound airliners.

Twenty-three suspects are in British custody, and at least seven others have been detained in Pakistan since Thursday's crackdown.

In related developments, British Airways says it may seek compensation from Britain's main airport operator for its handling of security measures following the arrests.

British Airways is among several airlines complaining that British authorities mismanaged the security crisis. The crackdown, including extensive luggage checks, triggered gridlock at London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports and the cancellation of many flights.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.