TSA warns of implant bombers, prepares fliers for swab tests
The latest threat to America's skies -- explosive surgical implants that authorities have dubbed "belly bombs" -- poses a security challenge so bizarre that air travelers learning of the new danger Wednesday could only scratch their heads and wonder what's next.
If those fliers had collagen injections or dental implants, what's next may mean having their heads examined. Literally.
The Transportation Security Administration advised airlines that terror groups are believed to be experimenting with explosives that could be implanted in buttocks and breasts, allowing suicide bombers to pass through airport body scanners undetected.
The TSA said it had no evidence of a specific plot, but intelligence sources indicated this new twist in bomb-proofing international air travel was likely the handiwork of Ibrahim Asiri, the al-Qaeda mastermind behind the Christmas Day attempt to bring down a Northwest Airlines plane by the so-called "underwear bomber."
Few Americans could have imagined when the first airport metal detectors were installed more than four decades ago that travelers would one day be expected to nearly disrobe before boarding their flights. The idea of implanting explosives in the same places plastic surgeons use to "enhance" many Americans does not strike Zoltan Prokay as far-fetched.
"If they do it properly, like a breast implant where the skin is stretched to accommodate the device, it could work," said Prokay, who spent two and a half years in Iraq working to detect improvised explosive devices as a member of a U.S. Special Forces team. He was flying out of San Jose as a pilot for a private airline, which he declined to identify, when word of the TSA advisory began to spread. "It could be set to go off at a certain altitude. If you get an altimeter implanted in your other breast though, maybe you would set off the metal detector."
Prokay sees it as a natural -- if horrifying -- progression from the Shoe Bomber and the Underwear Bomber. "This would be the Bosom Bomber," he said. "It's not funny. And yet it is kind of funny. The Bosom Bomber."
"If (terrorists) really want to attack, there is always a way," Renata Boudon, 47, said in French after arriving at San Francisco International for a two-week vacation in the western United States. "It doesn't scare me much." She and her two sons, 18-year-old Eric and 12-year-old Marc, live in Brazil and said they won't change anything about their travel habits because of the new information. "If it happens, it happens," she said. "There is nothing you can do."
Renata Boudon of France is a hell of a lot smarter than the idiots who populate this country, who will no doubt line up like sheep to have their breasts and buttocks grabbed by TSA agents in the name of national security.
It sure sounds like this is the TSA's way of justifying intrusive "pat-downs" that are often more like being groped by a creep on a crowded subway.