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Airline security switches from toothpaste to boots

February 21, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Prepare to remove your shoes and boots for inspection if flying into the US. America’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has alerted airlines to a possible shoe bomb threat on flights entering the US from abroad.

The bulletin did not outline any specific plot and an official said it was not related to an earlier alert about possible explosives concealed in toothpaste tubes. The toothpaste alert was linked to the Winter Olympic Games at Sochi but the shoe alert is more FIA-250x250general.

“Out of an abundance of caution, DHS regularly shares relevant information with domestic and international partners about relevant threat information as we work to meet our mission of keeping the traveling public safe,” a DHS official, who is not authorised to comment publicly, told USA Today. “These types of regular communications are part of that important priority.”

Islamist fanatics have made two failed attempts in recent years to detonate explosives on airliners – and one of them involved shoes.

Richard Reid, a British citizen dubbed “the shoe bomber”, tried to set off a bomb packed in his shoes on a Miami-bound flight in December 2001, just three months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York.  He was overpowered by brave passengers and is now serving a life sentence in a US prison.

A Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (nicknamed “the underwear bomber”), attempted to trigger explosives hidden in his underpants on a plane to Detroit in 2009. Passengers leapt into action on that flight too. Fortunately, Abdulmutallab’s underpants bomb was a fizzer, hurting him rather than anyone else. Abdulmutallab subsequently expressed much pride in his suicide mission on behalf of al-Qaida. He is now serving multiple life sentences, though one will suffice.

Airport security attention has since tended to concentrate feet and groin areas, switching occasionally to toothpaste.

You never can be too careful.

Written by : Peter Needham

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