The revelation that one of Britain's most wanted men evaded every checkpoint
at Heathrow Airport disguised as a woman wearing a veil, and then boarded a
plane to freedom has raised questions about airport security.
Using his sister's passport and wearing a full niqab covering last year, Mustaf Jamma managed to flee to his native Somalia, officials said. Jamma, 26, was a chief suspect for the murder of police Const. Sharon Beshenivsky, 38.
The officer died in November 2005 from gunshot wounds suffered during a holdup at a travel agency in northern England. Another officer was also wounded.
Amid a politically charged atmosphere, concerned Britons have characterized rules allowing veiled passengers to board without showing their faces as a security loophole.
In response, MPs have demanded an inquiry into the escape plot and have
called for immigration officers to ask all passengers to show their faces
before boarding any flights.
As of Wednesday, British reports said major airports across the United Kingdom continued operating as normal.
Jamma's escape has also refocused attention on the niqab, a traditional full veil that covers most of the face, leaving slits for the eyes.
Passenger waits for her flight at London's Heathrow Airport Thursday. British newspapers and politicians are calling for passengers wearing veils to show their faces to security staff after a male murder suspect is believed to have fled Britain wearing a Muslim veil.
The covering is traditionally worn by Muslim women in Britain. In October,
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the veils were a barrier, a "mark of
separation," to Muslim integration in the country.
Concerns about the niqab have provoked accusations of "Islamophobia" in the media.
Police believe Jamma fled sometime between Christmas Day and New Year's Day after the botched armed robbery. A court convicted his brother, Yusuf Abdillh, 20, for Beshenivsky's murder on Monday.
The British Airport Authority has said it is up to the airlines to review and inspect passengers' passports.