The United States has warned airlines with direct flights to Russia for the Winter Olympics that explosives concealed in toothpaste tubes could be smuggled onto planes which could be used to assemble a bomb either in flight or on arrival. In response, Russia banned all “liquids, pastes and gels” from international and domestic flights in order to tighten security during the Winter Olympic Games. The “tooth paste bomb” is only the most recent of a series of similar warnings over the years regarding security threats on international flights.
These threats are not limited to the Olympics. In 2012, American agents foiled an al-Qaeda plot to attack a US-bound plane with an “updated underwear bomb”, following an earlier attempt as in 2009 when a Nigerian attempted to detonate an underwear bomb on a flight to Detroit. And in 2006, three Britons plotted to blow up transatlantic planes with bombs disguised as soft drinks. And another Briton attempted to blow up a flight from Paris to Miami with explosives hidden in his shoes.
Fortunately the increased use of sophisticated detecting devices in airports and a wide covert intelligence network of informants and surveillance has thwarted the majority of these attempts. But, as we have seen, terrorists are equally ingenious in devising new methods to distribute terrorist devices.
Fortunately, the most common and serious effect is merely long lines and aggregated passengers suffering through the various regulations, checks and delays to ensure we all get to where we are going safely, even if we may eventually be stripped and personally inspected to get there. In some cases, that’s already being done.