WASHINGTON (MCT) — Al-Qaida operatives in Yemen recently discussed surgically implanting an explosive device under the skin of a suicide bomber to get past airport detectors and blow up a U.S.-bound passenger aircraft, a U.S. official said Wednesday.
There is no indication of an immediate plot, but the government has warned airlines and stepped up security at U.S. airports and encouraged other countries to adjust security measures.
The threat is focused more on international flights, but domestic passengers are likely to see more bomb-sniffing dogs and an increased use of swabs that test for traces of explosive material on hands and luggage.
The potential for terrorists to surgically implant bombs has been examined by intelligence agencies in the past — Britain’s MI5 agency issued a report on the possibility last year. But new information suggests that the Qaida branch in the Arabian Peninsula has seriously considered the technique, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.
As a precaution, the U.S. is adding an “unpredictable” regimen of additional security measures, said Nicholas Kimball, a Transportation Security Administration spokesman.
“Passengers should not expect to see the same activity at every international airport,” Kimball said.