Algeria’s foreign minister summoned the US ambassador yesterday to protest at Algeria’s inclusion on a list of countries whose flights bound for the United States will be subject to extra security checks, state media reported.
The North African country is fighting an al Qaeda-linked insurgency but the violence has subsided significantly in the past few years and officials say they have stringent security measures in place, especially at airports.
Algeria’s inclusion on the list announced by Washington after a botched attempt to blow up a Christmas Day flight bound for Detroit was “inappropriate, unjustified and discriminatory,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“The Foreign Minister, Mourad Medelci, has summoned the ambassador of the United States of America in Algiers to express to him the Algerian government’s strong protest over this measure,” the official APS news agency said.
Algeria, a mainly Muslim energy exporter, has cooperated with the United States in the fight against violent Islamist militants.
The 14 countries on the US list are Cuba, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.
Cuba and Nigeria have also complained about their inclusion in the list.
US officials say a 23-year-old Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried unsuccessfully to set off explosives strapped to his body as his flight from Amsterdam approached Detroit.
He is now in prison awaiting trial. Investigators said they believed he had been trained by al Qaeda in Yemen.
Western diplomats say Algeria has effective security measures in place to try to foil attacks by Islamist militants.
Travellers flying out of the main international airport, Houari Boumedienne, go through three security checks. These include, just before passenger’s board their plane, a pat-down and a manual search of their hand luggage.