Now that Al Qeada has moved airport security into a new era, where passengers will be nervously eyeing the person seated besides them to see if the person in their neighboring seat is scratching his or her crotch, will the terrorist organization move to the next “logical” murder-source step?
Think it about it…it makes sense. And The New Republic’s Senior Editor Michael Crowley raises it: is the next step the “butt bomb”?
Even a pat-down thorough enough to simulate foreplay, however, won’t protect us completely—not from a threat that sounds even more absurd than an underwear bomb and that is also more alarming: the butt bomb.
The concept is simple. Rather than sew explosives into his underwear, a terrorist might actually plant a bomb, which can weigh as little as a pound, inside his anal cavity. Like drug mules, would-be butt bombers could store the explosives inside a condom.
And if one went off officials couldn’t turn the other cheek, they’d be scrambling to find more security measures.
Sound crazy? Perhaps. Disgusting? Definitely. But security experts initially believed that a terrorist’s derriere nearly killed a top Saudi Arabian counterterrorism official last fall. Back in August, an Al Qaeda-connected militant named Abdullah Assiri offered to turn himself into Saudi authorities and enlist in a state-run terrorist rehabilitation program. Exhibiting a healthy skepticism, the Saudis reportedly subjected Assiri to two airport-style X-ray scans and other security checks. Finding no weapons or explosives on his body, security agents ushered Assiri into the palace of the counterterrorism chief, Prince Muhammad Bin Nayef, who is also the son of a likely heir to the Saudi throne.
Instead of surrendering, however, Assiri exploded. Nayef survived the blast, but the Saudis were bewildered by this incredible breach of their security. At first, they were convinced the explosive had been hidden in Assiri’s anal cavity—a scenario that other security experts didn’t discount. After further investigation, the Saudis concluded that Assiri didn’t have a butt bomb after all, but rather that he stashed the explosive in his underwear much like Abdulmutallab. (The device may have been detonated by a text message sent to Assiri’s cell phone; exactly how the phone triggered the bomb is unclear. Like Abdulmutallab, incidentally, Assiri appears to have gotten his assignment and materials in Yemen.)
Prince Nayaf himself flew to Washington to warn Obama administration officials about this new underwear bomb threat, according to Newsweek—which also recently disclosed a joint report produced by the National Counterterrorism Center, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security and the CIA, on the threat of both underwear and butt bombs. That report had both good and bad news about the alarming concept of explosive Al Qaeda asses. On the downside, the report found that even full-body-image scanners at airports might not detect anally stashed explosives. The upside is that much of the blast from such a rear-end bomb would be absorbed by the terrorist’s body—perhaps enough of the explosion that the airplane would not crash.
Crowley explores some more of a scenario and then adds:
You think taking off your shoes is bad? Try bending over for a TSA worker wearing green surgical gloves.
Just think of what the sound of all those passengers who are being examined coughing would sound like…
But this truly isn’t a laughing matter.
If you look at history, each time after terrorists have had some successes in the past few decades security measures have been tightened up or instituted. And, in many cases, the terrorists have been a step or two ahead of those implementing anti-terrorism security, leading to new “innovative” outrages which then leads to more security (yes, Virginia, there was a more innocent era where an airline’s hijacker would demand to be flown to Cuba and not slit the throats of hard-working stewardesses who are mothers, or stab pilots, or fly planes with innocent men, women and children into buildings to abrupt, terrifying and fiery deaths).
Whoever thought a jock strap would be a lethal weapon (except high school janitors who have to disinfect boys’ locker rooms)?
So, no, a butt bomb is a real threat even though it’s a pain in the posterior to think about it — and what a successful one going off would do to future airport security.
And that is the bottom line.