February 6th, 2014
10:46 AM ET

Airlines Warned of Possible Toothpaste Tube Bombs Ahead of Olympics

The United States is advising airlines with direct flights serving Russia to be aware of the possibility that explosive materials could be concealed in toothpaste or cosmetic tubes, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Wednesday night.

Rep. Michael McCaul said the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin to airlines flying into Russia warning of the potential threat.

The bulletin, the Texas Republican said, indicated that officials believed the explosives might be used during flights or smuggled into the city of Sochi, where competition at the Winter Olympics begins Thursday. The opening ceremony is Friday.

A U.S. law enforcement official told CNN that the cause for the Homeland Security alert was specific to the imminent start of the games.

According to the source, authorities have increasing confidence about the safety of Sochi and the Olympic venues. Still, U.S. intelligence is picking up increasing chatter that causes worry about targets outside the Sochi area, including regional transportation links.

The biggest ongoing worry outside this new concern - as expected - is groups based in southern Russia's Caucasus region, in particular the restive Dagestan republic.

However, U.S. officials also are worried that al Qaeda-linked groups from elsewhere could take advantage of the attention being focused on Russian militant groups.

The concern about the use of toothpaste tubes is mostly focused on flights from Europe and neighboring Asian countries - in part because the United States has less intelligence-sharing with those nations.

A separate U.S. official with knowledge of the current situation, who would not speak on the record because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the U.S. intelligence community is still assessing the credibility and scope of the threat.

The official said the Russians brought some information to the United States. Two senior administration officials told CNN that U.S. authorities had intelligence that they shared with the Russians.

Assessing the credibility includes looking at the latest intelligence about the location and capabilities of known terrorist bomb makers and which groups may have the ability to build a bomb in a container such as a toothpaste tube. Such a device would likely require hard-to-detect explosives and little or no metal content in other critical parts, such as the detonator.

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Eddie Fonseca

    As Americans we know that after 9/11 when the world trade towers in New York where hit with bombs hidden by terrorists as they carried on board planes, bound for the towers it was a dark day in American history. So by having bombs that could be hidden in toothpaste bottles by terrorists from Russia is being a stereotypical, because not all Russians believe in harming innocent hard working people who want to make their country a strong place in the global markets. On the other hand we should have more security at our airports in America and world wide, because terrorists will always want to threaten our American way of life from being free from personal and terrorists threats from around the world. As Americans when we look at our flag which stands for freedom and liberty we are reminded that the road to peace, is a long battle with groups that always will hate our way of life and try to threaten that peaceful way of life for years to come unless we stand against terrorism at home and the international threats to America for years to come.

    March 17, 2014 at 12:31 am | Reply
  2. Apebay

    Even if you stick to travel sized items such as ones on http://apebay.com , you may still run into trouble with the Russians, because they plan to seize anything that can be assembled by multiple passengers.

    February 7, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Reply

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