On multiple occasions this week AlertsUSA subscribers were notified via text messages to their mobile devices regarding the heightened threat environment surrounding the Sochi Winter Olympics and the resulting impact on airline travel here in the U.S..
Earlier this week the Dept. of Homeland Security began by warning U.S. and foreign airlines traveling to Russia during the Olympics of the need to be on the lookout for toothpaste and other small toiletry containers which some intelligence indicates may be used to hold ingredients that could be used to construct a bomb aboard an aircraft. Not only were the airlines warned, but security screenings at U.S. and foreign airports was ramped up significantly.
So serious was the threat intelligence that late this week the Transportation Security Administration completely banned all liquids, gels, aerosols & powders of any size or type within carry-on baggage on flights between the U.S. and Russia, as well as other major gateway cities, until at least the end of the Olympics.
Media outlets are reporting that the threat intelligence is, in part, linked to the arrest of two Chechen women in France who may have revealed elements of an ongoing plot.
Readers are cautioned that while it may seem foolish, or even humorous, for authorities to be targeting such innocuous items as tubes of toothpaste or shampoo, this is serious business given the field craft and methods actively employed by terrorists worldwide. While a vast majority of the public's understanding of explosives is limited to what is portrayed in movies and on television, liquid and gel types of explosives are very real and in wide use in mining and demolition applications. Perhaps most troubling is some are relatively simple to make.
As an example, triacetone triperoxide (TATP) can be made from readily available substances like hydrogen peroxide, acetone and acid. In fact, one can easily find the ingredients necessary to produce a number of blasting agents at your local grocery and hardware stores. All it takes is motivation and a little knowledge. And as liquid explosives are very volatile, elaborate or powerful detonators are not necessary, making detection by airport security that much more difficult.
Readers may recall al Qaeda's foiled 2006 transatlantic aircraft plot targeting at least 10 airliners traveling from the United Kingdom to the United States and Canada. The plan was to bring down the aircraft using liquid explosives carried on board in toiletry containers and drink bottles. It was this particular plot which led to the initial ban on carry-on liquids and gels throughout the commercial aviation sector.
There have also been several other similar plots revealed over the years, including ...
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