Interpol urges airlines to establish passport database


June 07--SINGAPORE -- The head of the international police organization Interpol on Tuesday urged global airlines to establish a passport database in order to help prevent terrorist attacks.

One out of two international arrivals by air was not being screened and checked against criminal records, Ronald Noble said in Singapore.

"That's almost half a billion each year not being screened," he told aviation industry leaders at the general meeting of the International Air Traffic Association (IATA).

Noble said security agencies in 2010 had screened 490 million passports, identifying 40,000 of them as being listed as stolen or missing.

Many terrorists were travelling with fake documents, he warned on the final day of the IATA summit.

Noble said a passport database would have prevented the 1993 World Trade Center bombing when one of the attackers had entered the United States with a stolen passport.

To illustrate his point, the Interpol chief presented an authentic-looking staff badge of German airline Lufthansa carrying his photo, claiming his colleagues bought the fake document for 100 US dollars at a Bangkok market.

However, a Lufthansa spokesman said the fake badge would have been detected because the airline's real staff badges contained uncopyable security features.