These are designed to be confusing for terrorists who attempt to circumvent them. The unpredictability is enhanced by varying them for location to location. What makes the threat especially insidious is the fact that current full body scanners used in airports across the world cannot detect items concealed inside the body with great accuracy. However, improving existing technology can change this capability for the better, according to aviation security experts.
The main likely reaction to the latest intelligence is to expand and improve security at airport checkpoints. As security measures after 9/11 have expanded and improved, terrorists have responded by creating innovative evasion measures to avoid common screening practices at airports.
The publication Today Online (2011) refers to the surgically implanted devices as "belly bombs." The report quotes Transport Security Administration spokesman Kawika Riley in asserting that there has been a trend among terrorist groups to respond to increased security by further concealing explosives. This interest has been publicly indicated.
According to terrorism experts, explosives could be implanted in abdomens (hence the "belly" bombs), but also in buttocks or breasts, all of which are very difficult to detect by body scanners. An example of an explosive compound that can be implanted is pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN). The substance would be implanted, the wound allowed to heal, and body scanners would have a very difficult time detecting it. To detonate the substance, an injection is used on board the aircraft.
When new intelligence of this nature becomes available, it is the responsibility of the FBI and Homeland Security to inform nationwide security officials. The memo received by these officials includes information about the specific physical manifestation that could help detect implanted materials. It is, for example, possible to detect implanted substances visually by unnatural bulging. Patting down a suspect could also result in physical discomfort, which would be visible in a person's reaction to the search.
One of the drivers for renewed terrorism efforts is related ot the recent death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin in May 2011. Although no intelligence has been forthcoming about such a plot, it is logical to maintain a strong vigil in case of renewed terror attacks. Specifically, surgically implanted bombs are assumed to be a greater risk in Europe and the Middle East, where full body scanners are less prevalent than in the United States.
It is believed that surgically implanted bombs are the brainchild of Ibrahim Asiri, a high-profile target for U.S. officials after his attempt to hide bombs in printer cartridges traveling from Yemen to Chicago.
In conclusion, the United States is protected by an integrated web of officials, at the head of which is the Department of Homeland Security. The FBI and police work with other experts in the fields of detonation devices to ensure that the American people remain safe from these types of attacks. These officials could include explosive experts, terrorist experts, and other officials, either connected to law enforcement or other government agencies.
Although there have been questions regarding the necessity of higher security measures in response to the intelligence regarding surgically implanted bombs. This could further delay flights that have already been affected by stronger security measures after 9/11. However, one might respond by asserting that there is never an excessive measure against potential terrorism. Indeed, it is vital that the integrated nature of the national effort against terrorism be continually updated to ensure that the country as a whole remains safe and free from terror. For this reason, the main aim should be to be as strong as possible in terms of prevention.
Center for HealthCare Emergency Readiness (2011). Homeland Security Presidential Directives. Retrieved from: http://www.chcer.org/Post_DHS_HSPDs.html
Homeland Security (2009, Feb 25). Homeland Security Presidential Directive 19: Combating Terrorist Use of Explosives in the United States. Retrieved from: http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/laws/gc_1219260981698.shtm
Kress, J. And Grogger, S. (2008). The Domestic IED Threat. JFQ, Iss. 48, 1st quarter. Retrieved from: http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf&AD=ADA518754
One India News (2011, Jul 8.) 'Body 'bomb' menace raises fear among Indian air travellers. Retrieved from: http://news.oneindia.in/2011/07/08/body-bomb-menace-raises-fear-among-indian-air-travelers-aid0113.html
Terminal U. (2011, Jul 7). Body Bombs: airlines warned about the latest terrorism threat. Retrieved from: http://www.terminalu.com/travel-news/body-bombs-airlines-warned-about-the-latest-terrorism-threat/11965/
Today Online (2011, Jul 8). U.S. warns of new "belly bomb" terror threat. Retrieved from: http://www.todayonline.com/World/EDC110708-0000050/U.S.-warns-of-new-belly-bomb-terror-threat