TSA steps up security after Al Qaeda posts detailed bombing instructions

One more story for the “Al Qaeda is not dead” pile: the terrorist umbrella organization posted detailed airplane bombing instructions in its online magazine, including how to build  the devices, get them past security, and where to sit on the plane to cause maximum damage. Homeland Security Sec. Jeh Johnson says there is no specific threat at this time, but that’s the point, isn’t it? Al Qaeda posts this to the internet with the hopes that so-called lone wolf terrorists living anywhere in the world will give the recipe a try.

After reviewing the recipe, explosives expert Kevin Barry said it appeared to be one of the most “sophisticated” non-metallic explosives devices he’s seen, which could especially be a problem for smaller airports that don’t employ high-tech body imaging security devices.

AQAP, the al Qaeda branch based in Yemen, previously attempted to bring down an American airliner on Christmas Day 2009, but the would-be bomber couldn’t get the device to detonate. That bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, reportedly crossed paths in Yemen with one of the men who executed the Paris terror attack last week.

In response to the accelerated threat, airport security has reportedly been directed to conduct more random searches of both passengers and luggage. The device that Al Qaeda described is designed to go undetected by airport magnetometers, the old-school “metal detectors” still in use at many airports. It should, they think, be detectable by the newer full body scanners.

Al Qaeda played around with the idea of surgically implanted bombs for a few years, but appears to have turned back to more practical ideas. You may recall that TSA implemented new procedures this past summer in response to the threat of terrorists bringing bombs onto planes by disguising them as cell phones, tablets, or laptops. This return to bombs that are designed to be worn under clothing is of note, particularly because they managed to get one of those onto a plane in 2009.

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David Strom 3:31 PM on February 02, 2023