Federal Warning: Al Qaeda Wants To Surgically Implant Bombs In Terrorists
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A new and insidious twist on terrorist suicide bombs has federal officials issuing new warnings to international and domestic airlines and stepping up security measures here and abroad.
In 2004 al Qaeda tried a shoe bomb to take down an airplane. Five years later their so-called "Christmas surprise" was an underwear bomb on a plane.
In both cases, they failed.
However, new intelligence indicates al Qaeda now wants to surgically implant bombs directly into a suicide bomber's body, reports CBS 2's Marcia Kramer.
"It's definitely a change. It makes al Qaeda more lethal," said Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
The Transportation Safety Administration is now warning international and domestic airlines traveling to the United States to be on the lookout for these new suicide bombers and to ramp up security.
"The U.S. government has received information, intelligence about terrorist intent to use this type of concealment and this technique to try to carry out plots to blow up planes," TSA Director John Pistole said.
The agency said new measures will be taken including:
"Interaction with passengers, in addition to the use of other screening methods such as the pat-down and the use of enhanced tools and technologies," said TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.
Noted New York plastic surgeon Howard Bellin said a bomb could easily be sewed into the body surgically.
"If it's a woman, breast implants. Put it in a breast implant like this," Bellin said, demonstrating, "and if it's a man put it in his buttocks, same kind of thing. Or, put it in his abdomen. Just open him up and it looks like he's just had his appendix out or his colon resected or something."
Sources told Kramer al Qaeda puts the explosive PETN into the surgical implant. When the suicide bomber wants to set it off all he or she has to do is use a syringe to inject the chemical TATP and it explodes.
"We're up against a harsh enemy. This is an enemy that crashed jets into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We're talking about suicide bombers," Rep. King said.
"It's a wake-up call to some of the American people who don't realize what a deadly, ongoing threat this is and how evil and diabolical al Qaeda is."
Unfortunately, travelers told CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez, the latest terror warning is a sign of the times. Most don't mind any added security to prevent an attack, but they worry about what terrorists could try next.
"Those things, I bet they're not going to be detectable. They're going to need more machines to detect them. It's kind of scary," Rodrigo Ortiz said.
"I'll come in two or three hours early, just to be on the safe side," said Sanka Phagu of Levittown, N.Y.
"Who knows? Could be a baby next time," another traveler added.
Neither the TSA nor Congressman King would say exactly what the ramped up security measures are. They said they don't want to tip off the bad guys.
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