Terry Paulson

The sigh of relief in the plane was evident; others joined in the conversation. We had profiled. We had faced our fears. We had found friends, not terrorists. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but the terrorists who wish to kill Americans are Muslim extremists. Whether it is politically correct or not, we’re all profiling. Profiling is not bigotry; it’s smart self-defense!

Don’t expect that attempted terrorist attacks will end any time soon. Al Qaeda took credit for the recent attempted bombing, boasted of its ability to overcome U.S. intelligence and airport security, and promised new attacks.

Al-Qaida continues to recruit people that blend into society. Remember, behavior-based detection is more than ethnic profiling. Be friendly to all the fellow travelers near you on the plane. Introduce yourself and try simple conversations focused on their trip. Use questions you would ask anyone: "How are you today?" or "Where are you heading?"

Professional behavior-detection officers are looking for specific micro-facial expressions that are hard to hide. Officers won’t share what they are looking for, but even you can look for behavior indicators that show a certain level of stress, fear or anxiety above and beyond what is normal while traveling. It’s the vague, evasive responses where a brief flash of fear shows itself. Be assertive but respectful in sharing any concerns you feel with flight attendants. Such concerns expressed early could trigger secondary screening that could save lives.

As a traveling business man with over 4 million miles logged, I’m ready to join any fellow citizens in an attempt to overpower any terrorists. I’m also ready to reach out to get to know my fellow travelers, whether they are Muslim or not. I’d rather have a new friend than an enemy, and I would rather check that out before takeoff.

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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