THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Latest threat: surgical bomb implants

Associated Press / July 7, 2011

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WASHINGTON - US security officials are warning airlines that terrorists are considering surgically hiding bombs inside humans to evade airport security. And as a result, travelers may find themselves subjected to more scrutiny when flying in the heart of summer vacation season, especially to the United States from abroad.

Bombs-in-the body is not a brand new idea, but recent intelligence indicates a fresh interest in using this method, as people-scanning machines in airports aren’t able to detect explosives hidden inside humans. Still, there is no current information that points to a specific plot involving surgically implanted explosives, a US security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss such sensitive matters.

As airport security has increased since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, so has the terrorists’ creativity in developing methods to get around it. Aviation continues to be a special target, and evidence from Osama bin Laden’s compound showed that the Al Qaeda leader retained his fascination with attacking airplanes until his death in May.

Last year, it was reported that British officials uncovered intelligence that Al Qaeda was seeking to surgically implant bombs inside people, a move some believed was prompted by the use of full-body imaging machines at major airports around the world.

“This is something we’ve been concerned about for quite some time,’’ said J. Bennet Waters, a security consultant with the Washington, D.C.-based Chertoff Group and a former Transportation Security Administration official in the Bush administration.

The US government has been working with foreign air carriers and governments on ways to discover hidden explosives.