U.S. officials warn that terrorists may fill breast implants with detonating devices
July 18, 2011
A recent report from U.S. officials says that militants from al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch may attempt to surgically implant explosive devices in the bodies of suicide bombers. The Wall Street Journal, July 7th, reports that because of this new intelligence the Obama administration has warned foreign governments and American and international airline executives that terrorists might attempt to board planes with explosives concealed in their bodies.
The concern is that breast, pectoral or buttock implants, commonly filled with saline and implanted by plastic surgeons for cosmetic or reconstructive purposes, could instead be filled with explosives.
So, is this feasible? A New York plastic surgeon, trained in the military, says that implantation could be accomplished with rudimentary medical training, outside a medical facility and using local anesthesia. A sharp pen-like object filled with a triggering chemical could be used to penetrate the skin and detonate the explosive. Also, since breast implants are so common, they probably wouldn't cause suspicion in security personnel. Explosive devices could also be implanted in other bodily areas, for example, near the heart where pacemakers are located. But in body cavities like the rectum, where implants are not typically placed, an implant would raise a red flag.
A recipient could theoretically be mobile within days of implant surgery and walk around with internal explosive substances for several weeks without consequence. The volume of explosive substance that could be implanted this way has the potential to do damage; a large breast implant commonly holds about 16 ounces.
The Department of Homeland Security hasn't warned of a specific plot, but TSA spokesman Nick Kimball said that "passengers flying from international locations to U.S. destinations may notice additional security measures in place," including more interactions between security agents and passengers. Because our new full-body screening scanners would probably not have the capacity to identify implanted explosive devices, many security experts are urging alternative measures, including profiling passenger behavior and demeanor.
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