Home inContext Terrorists Turning to “Body Bombs”?

Terrorists Turning to “Body Bombs”?

Samara Greenberg

Terrorists seeking to bring down air carriers are looking into new ways to circumvent detection and sneak explosives onto a plane, including surgically implanting bombs into humans, according to U.S. officials. Explosive compounds could be implanted into a person’s abdomens, buttocks, and breasts, then on board the plane, the material could be detonated by injection.

“We see this as the latest iteration or the evolution of what terrorist groups are trying to do to circumvent our security layers and to perhaps defeat our societal norms,” TSA Administrator John Pistole said. “The information is that terrorists are aware of this type of technique and interested in using it, but there is no specific threat as to a date and time and a specific flight,” he said.

TSA agents conduct full-body scans on passengers at Denver International Airport on November 24, 2010.

U.S. intelligence links the body bomb scheme to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), based in Yemen. According to officials, the popular uprisings there against President Ali Abdullah Saleh have created a security vacuum, giving the branch more room to operate.

Meanwhile, the body scanners currently in place in many U.S. airports are not capable of detecting a body bomb, as they are designed to show objects on the body and under clothes rather than view internal organs. But as this new threat as well as 2009’s Christmas Day “underwear bomber” incident and last year’s cargo bomb plot illustrate, aviation continues to be an al-Qaeda target of interest. Evidence taken from Osama bin Laden’s compound after his death two months ago showed that the leader remained interested in plotting attacks on airplanes.

What can be learned from this news? Terrorists will do anything they can to continue murdering innocent civilians in their attempt to reach their goal: weakening the U.S. and other world powers with the ultimate intent of eventually creating an Islamic Caliphate. And as the U.S. adapts to new threats, so too will the terrorists. Indeed, in the fight against world terror, Washington and U.S. security agencies must never let their guard down.