Recreation of a TSA scanner checkpoint, via Playmobil toys.
Terrorists resorting to body bombs? DHS counts that as a win. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Bill Alldredge/Flickr)

Increased U.S. airport security measures post 9/11 have created a great deal of controversy. Wired reports that the Department of Homeland Security is currently on watch for jihadists from al-Qaida and other organizations planning to sew body bombs under their skin en route to martyrdom. Curiously, DHS says this is “good news.”

Take the finger off the panic button

Surgically implanted explosives are a sign of desperation, Wired suggests. TSA efforts to prevent air travel catastrophes have been successful, even though countless air passengers have complained about pat-down practices and the intrusiveness of full-body scanners. Incidents like those of shoe bomber Richard Reid, underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and the anus bomb attack against Prince Mohammad bin Nayef has forced the U.S. and security forces worldwide to improve scanning processes to include non-metal items. Terrorists know where security will look, so they’re moving on to their last resort – surgical insertion.

Limits to the threat

According to the U.S. Army, the vast majority of explosives are toxic to the body. Even tightly packed and sealed, there are only so many places where explosive devices can be packed inside the body. It would take a great deal of explosive material to do serious damage, too. Storage options are further limited by the need for a detonator and device that enables a countdown or remote detonation, such as a cell phone circuit.

If terrorists could make it as far as the airport terminal before internal hemorrhaging causes them to collapse in a heap, body swelling and specifically tuned scanners would likely give them away. The number of variables make failure likely.

Then there’s tamping

Bomb technologists note that tamping would make potential terrorist body bombs difficult to pull off. Tamping is the damping effect that occurs when large amounts of buried explosives are detonated. In much the same way that soil dampens the blast, bodily organs, bone and water would lessen the impact. However, if enough explosives were used, bone could potentially pose a shrapnel risk to those close to the blast.

Failing to go where no man has gone before

Body bomb failure is the most likely course, according to DHS experts. The number of unknowns are staggering. Furthermore, Wired points out that now there are body-cavity security training devices available through companies like Secure Search, Inc. Body bombs are a desperate action for which security forces are prepared.

Alex Jones on security storing body scan images


Secure Search Inc.:


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