Report: U.S. Warns of Toothpaste Bomb Threat to Olympics

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 6, 2014, 7:37 a.m.

The U.S. Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment has told some air­lines to be on the lookout for tooth­paste tubes that may con­tain bomb in­gredi­ents, law­makers say.

U.S. Rep­res­ent­at­ive Peter King (R-N.Y.), chair­man of the House Home­land Se­cur­ity Sub­com­mit­tee on Coun­terter­ror­ism and In­tel­li­gence, said he had been in­formed of the spe­cif­ic bomb danger and that it was a cred­ible threat, ABC News re­por­ted.

An uniden­ti­fied seni­or U.S. of­fi­cial said the cau­tion­ary warn­ing ap­plied to U.S. and some in­ter­na­tion­al air­lines con­duct­ing flights to Rus­sia for the 2014 Winter Olympics in So­chi.

“Any type of ex­plos­ive, con­cealed ex­plos­ive, can be ex­tremely dam­aging,” King said to CNN. “It could be enough to bring down a plane. … This is the type of threat that we’re very con­cerned about.”

A Home­land Se­cur­ity of­fi­cial would not com­ment on the re­por­ted warn­ing but said the de­part­ment “reg­u­larly shares rel­ev­ant in­form­a­tion with do­mest­ic and in­ter­na­tion­al part­ners, in­clud­ing those as­so­ci­ated with in­ter­na­tion­al events such as the So­chi Olympics.”

“As al­ways, our se­cur­ity ap­par­at­us in­cludes a num­ber of meas­ures, both seen and un­seen, and DHS will con­tin­ue to ad­just se­cur­ity meas­ures to fit an ever evolving threat en­vir­on­ment,” the of­fi­cial said.

A fed­er­al gov­ern­ment source said the in­form­a­tion about a tooth­paste bomb threat was con­nec­ted to the re­cent ap­pre­hen­sion in France of two Chechen wo­men.

Pos­sible ter­ror­ist threats to the So­chi games have re­ceived much at­ten­tion in re­cent weeks. Last month, it was re­por­ted that Rus­si­an au­thor­it­ies were con­cerned that so-called “black wid­ows” of slain Is­lam­ist fight­ers might be mak­ing their way to the Balt­ic Sea re­sort town in pre­par­a­tion for sui­cide bomb­ing at­tacks dur­ing the Olympics, which take place from Feb. 7 to 23.

U.S. Rep­res­ent­at­ive Mi­chael Mc­Caul (R-Texas) con­firmed to CNN that a Home­land Se­cur­ity ad­vis­ory was sent to air­lines to be on alert for bomb in­gredi­ents that could be used either in flight or in So­chi at­tacks.

The tooth­paste bomb wor­ries are primar­ily con­cen­trated around air travel from Europe and nearby Asi­an na­tions, ac­cord­ing to CNN.

The threat is “real,” an an­onym­ous gov­ern­ment in­sider said. “We got very good in­form­a­tion. It’s based on a cred­ible source. We’re tak­ing it ser­i­ously. So are oth­er coun­tries.”

While the U.S. gov­ern­ment has re­com­men­ded that U.S. cit­izens be cau­tious when trav­el­ing to Rus­sia, no new travel ad­vis­ory has been is­sued, the Los Angeles Times re­por­ted.

“If we should re­ceive in­form­a­tion in the com­ing days and weeks that changes our as­sess­ment of wheth­er people should travel to So­chi, we will make that in­form­a­tion pub­lic,” White House Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Coun­cil spokes­wo­man Laura Mag­nuson said.

One of the most re­cent ser­i­ous threats to a pas­sen­ger air­liner was on Christ­mas Day 2009 when an al-Qaida af­fil­i­ated ex­trem­ist un­suc­cess­fully at­temp­ted to blow up a plane fly­ing to De­troit us­ing chem­ic­al ex­plos­ive in­gredi­ents hid­den in his un­der­wear.

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