Airport Scanners Likely to Miss Surgically Implanted Bombs

Officials respond to information that Al-Qaida is working on embedding explosives inside suicide bombers as a way to beat airport scanners.
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Explosive devices surgically implanted inside suicide bombers would likely not be detected by most scanning equipment, according to U.S. government officials.

Regular scanning equipment, including full-body scanners, is not designed to penetrate the skin, so it would not be able to detect implanted devices, the officials say in response to the information Al-Qaida is working on embedding explosives inside suicide bombers as a way to beat airport scanners and destroy U.S.-bound international flights.

As a result, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)—which oversees passenger screening at U.S. airports—says it will increase scrutiny of airline passengers, and has asked foreign security agencies “to provide greater insights into recent intelligence indicating the continued interest of terrorists to target aviation.”

“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 says.

“As a precaution, passengers flying from international locations to U.S. destinations may notice additional security measures in place. These measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same activity at every international airport. 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.”

The TSA says it will continue to monitor information pertaining to threats against the United States and its interests, and encourage the public and its partners in law enforcement and the private sector to remain vigilant in promptly reporting any suspicious activities.