They can’t profile based on religion directly so they’re going to do it by proxy, with the circle of “countries of interest” kept as small as possible to minimize the political heat. Nigeria and Lebanon are actually both religiously diverse, but needless to say, it ain’t the threat of Christian bomb plots that landed them on the list.

A senior official identifies the relevant” countries of interest”: Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, or Yemen, or one of the following countries designated as a state sponsor of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria.

Given Chavez’s ties to Iran, does anyone seriously think terrorists are more likely to connect out of Havana than Caracas? More from Politico:

All travelers flying into the U.S. from foreign countries will receive tightened random screening, and 100 percent of passengers from 14 terrorism-prone countries will be patted down and have their carry-ons searched, the Obama administration was notifying airlines on Sunday…

“These are changes that weren’t widely in place for all carriers or countries on 12/24,” a senior administration official told POLITICO. “These are sustainable measures that are a significant enhancement of our security posture. TSA will continuously review these measures with our global aviation partners to ensure the highest levels of security.”…

A much higher percentage of all travelers from all foreign countries will receive such screening than is currently the case, the official said. “The screening “could also include explosive detection technology or advanced imaging technology where it’s available,” the official said…

The measures apply to all “passengers with passports from or itineraries through State Sponsors of Terrorism and ‘countries of interest.’”

That would have stopped Abdulmutallab had he been asked to produce a Nigerian passport, which, er, he wasn’t. Exit question: What’s AQ’s next move now? Confronting the new security screening head-on via bombs that are fully concealed inside the body? Or a new emphasis on recruiting among western jihadis with passports from, oh, say, Britain? If it’s the latter, they’d better move fast: The Brits are rolling out whole-body image scanners at Heathrow as we speak.