Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Alert: Terrorists Look to Implant Bombs in Humans
By EILEEN SULLIVAN Associated Press
WASHINGTON July 6, 2011 (AP)
Airlines are being warned by the government that terrorists are considering surgically hiding bombs inside humans to evade airport security. And as a result, travelers may find themselves subjected to more scrutiny when flying in the heart of summer vacation season, especially to the U.S. from abroad.
Bombs-in-the body is not a brand new idea, but recent intelligence indicates a fresh interest in using this method, as people-scanning machines in airports aren't able to detect explosives hidden inside humans. Still, there is no current information that points to a specific plot involving surgically implanted explosives, a U.S. security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss such sensitive matters.
As airport security has increased since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, so has the terrorists' creativity in developing methods to get around it. Aviation continues to be a special target, and evidence from Osama bin Laden's compound showed that the al-Qaida leader retained his fascination with attacking airplanes until his death in May.
Last year, it was reported that British officials uncovered intelligence that al-Qaida was seeking to surgically implant bombs inside people, a move some believed was prompted by the use of full-body imaging machines at major airports around the world.
"This is something we've been concerned about for quite some time," said J. Bennet Waters, a security consultant with the Washington, D.C.-based Chertoff Group and a former Transportation Security Administration official in the Bush administration.
The U.S. government has been working with foreign air carriers and governments to identify ways to discover hidden explosives, including bombs potentially hidden inside of humans. Officials did not want to discuss specific security measures under consideration so as not to tip off terrorists who could seek ways to get around them.
Once a terrorist finds a willing suicide bomber, secures the explosive material and makes the bomb, carrying off this tactic is not that difficult, said Chris Ronay, a former chief of the FBI explosives unit.
"It's rather easy and the damage could be rather severe," Ronay said.
Surgery to implant explosives could be done a couple of days before a planned attack, said James Crippin, an explosives expert in Colorado. In order for it to work, there would need to be a detonation device, and it's conceivable that if the explosive was implanted in a woman's breast, the detonator could be underneath the breast so that all the operative would have to do is press downward, Crippin said.
But Jimmie C. Oxley, a chemistry professor at the University of Rhode Island and explosives expert, said it would be tough to carry out such an effort successfully. She said there are only so many places to hide a bomb in the body, and a suicide bomber would have to recover enough from the surgery to travel and set off the device.
The al-Qaida offshoot in Yemen has emerged as the most inventive terror organization these days and has been behind two plots that nearly brought down planes over the U.S. The group, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, was behind the Christmas Day attack in 2009 when a Nigerian hid a bomb in his underpants and nearly brought down an airliner over Detroit.
AQAP operatives also concealed bombs in printer cartridges last October, shipping them to Chicago addresses. That attack was thwarted because of specific intelligence about the plot. And in late December, the U.S. received intelligence that the Yemen group was considering hiding explosives in the insulated lining of beverage containers and carrying them aboard airplanes. There was no information pointing to a specific plot with insulated beverage containers, but, like the recent intelligence about the implanted bomb tactic, the Transportation Security Administration warned domestic and foreign carriers to be on the lookout.
"Due to the significant advances in global aviation security in recent years, terrorist groups have repeatedly and publicly indicated interest in pursuing ways to further conceal explosives," TSA spokesman Nick Kimball said, adding that passengers flying into the U.S. may notice additional security. "Measures may include interaction with passengers, in addition to the use of other screening methods such as pat-downs and the use of enhanced tools and technologies."
Officials would not specify which terrorist organizations are thought to be considering this surgical tactic.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said U.S. counterterrorism efforts must evolve as terror groups publicly indicate their interest in finding ways to conceal explosives.
"The idea that terrorists have been looking for other ways to circumvent security measures to target aircraft is not at all surprising," Carney said.
Associated Press writer Julie Pace contributed to this story.
Federal Warning: Al CIAda Wants To Surgically Implant Bombs In Terrorists
TSA Promises More 'Interaction With Passengers,' In Addition To New Technology
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A new and insidious twist on terrorist suicide bombs has federal officials issuing new warnings to international and domestic airlines and stepping up security measures here and abroad.
In 2004 al Qaeda tried a shoe bomb to take down an airplane. Five years later their so-called “Christmas surprise” was an underwear bomb on a plane.
In both cases, they failed.
However, new intelligence indicates al Qaeda now wants to surgically implant bombs directly into a suicide bomber’s body, reports CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer.
“It’s definitely a change. It makes al Qaeda more lethal,” said Rep. Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
The Transportation Safety Administration is now warning international and domestic airlines traveling to the United States to be on the lookout for these new suicide bombers and to ramp up security. The agency said new measures will be taken including:
“Interaction with passengers, in addition to the use of other screening methods such as the pat-down and the use of enhanced tools and technologies,” said TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.
Noted New York plastic surgeon Howard Bellin said a bomb could easily be sewed into the body surgically.
“If it’s a woman, breast implants, put it in a breast implant like this,” Bellin said, demonstrating, “and if it’s a man put it in his buttocks, same kind of thing, or out it in his abdomen. Just open him up and it looks like he’s just had his appendix out or his colon reseated.”
Sources told Kramer al Qaeda puts the explosive part in the surgical implant. When the suicide bombers wants to set it off all he or she has to do is use a syringe to inject the chemical TATP and it explodes.
“We’re up against a harsh enemy. This is an enemy that crashed jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We’re talking about suicide bombers,” Rep. King said.
“It’s a wake-up call to some of the American people who don’t realize what a deadly, ongoing threat this is and how evil and diabolical al Qaeda is.”
Neither the TSA nor Congressman King would say exactly what the ramped up security measures are. They said they don’t want to tip off the bad guys.
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