Facial-recognition technology could be used for PanAms

Pearson International Airport. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters file photo)

Pearson International Airport. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters file photo)

TOM GODFREY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:13 PM ET

TORONTO - Police are looking at using facial-recognition technology to nab terrorists and law-breakers who try to slip into Canada at Pearson Airport to cause trouble or derail the Pan Am Games.

The technology, that uses passport photos to screen travellers, may be ready in time to help process an estimated 250,000 tourists, 10,000 athletes and officials arriving for the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games, according to police.

Some details will be unveiled Sept. 25-27 to 250 officers attending an International Investigator's Training Symposium, sponsored by Pearson Airport's YYZ Intelligence Unit and Joint Forces Operation.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews will attend the conference, which features speaker Yoav Lorbert, an El Al Israel Airlines security director.

Lorbert will talk about a 2002 attack near an El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles Airport which left two people dead and three others wounded before airline security personnel killed the gunman.

El Al passengers were also the target of a December 1985 attack in Rome when terrorists threw grenades and opened fire with semi-automatic weapons at the airline's ticket counter. The attack killed 17 people and wounded more than 100 others.

"This is the first time El Al is lending its expertise in Canada by speaking to our conference," Peel Regional Police Det. Steve Rowland said. "Security officers will be receiving training and information in preparation for the Pan Am Games and other major events."

Rowland said facial recognition technology was used at some European airports to intercept soccer hooligans heading to the Euro Cup games.

The Australian Customs Service has a system called SmartGate that relies on facial recognition. The system compares the face of the individual with the image in an e-passport microchip, certifying that the holder of the passport is the rightful owner.

Human trafficking victim Timea Nagy -- author of Memoirs of a Sex Slave Survivor -- will also appear at the symposium.

RCMP Cpl. Vinicioi Sebastiano will talk about the Montreal Mafia and how they once penetrated that city's airport.

Also featured will be American police chief Edward Glomb who probed the "Underwear Bomber."

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. a Nigerian, is serving a life sentence for trying to blow up a U.S. airliner bound for Detroit on Dec. 25, 2009. A bomb hidden in his underwear caused a fire but failed to explode on a Delta Airlines flight carrying 289 people.


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