Has it come to this? In the future will TSA inspectors at airports ask you “Boxers or briefs or explosives?” and then check to see whether your underwear was made by Fruit of the Loom or Al Qaeda? Perhaps: ABC News reports that Al Qaeda bigwigs may now be clothes horses since they’ve created a new wardbobe item for the best dressed murder-to-be terrorist: suicide underwear — most recently modeled by Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab when he attempted to blow up a Northwest Airlines plane but was thwarted by passengers:
The plot to blow up an American passenger jet over Detroit was organized and launched by al Qaeda leaders in Yemen who apparently sewed bomb materials into the suspect’s underwear before sending him on his mission, federal authorities tell ABC News.
Investigators say the suspect had more than 80 grams of PETN, a compound related to nitro-glycerin used by the military. The so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid, had only about 50 grams kin his failed attempt in 2001 to blow up a U.S.-bound jet. Yesterday’s bomb failed because the detonator may have been too small or was not in “proper contact” with the explosive material, investigators told ABC News.
Investigators say the suspect, Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian student whose birthday was last Tuesday, has provided detailed information about his recruitment and training for what was supposed to be a Christmas Day suicide attack.
What does this mean? One one hand, the implications, complications and problems are enormous in terms of security.
On the other hand, you don’t want to think about what this might portend. Ed Morrissey writes:
It’s difficult to see how TSA will create standards to protect against suicide underwear. Thanks to Richard Reid, we have to take off our shoes before getting to the gate now at the airport. An underwear check will certainly make security today, with all of its delays, seem like a breeze in comparison, when breezes from airport air conditioning start hitting new places altogether.
Interestingly, this attack suffered from the same problem as the shoe bomber’s: incompetence. Both flights got lucky that the radical Islamist at the trigger didn’t know how to set off the bomb properly. The heroes on both flights could have been seriously wounded had even a portion of the underwear detonated.
Now project this even farther down the line…
Clearly, federal officials will now be prepared to start to look for or detect this kind of explosive. And then the terrorists will have to find something even more elusive.
Again, you don’t even want to think about what that would portend. Let’s just put it to you this way:
If the feds find a way to detect this kind of explosive does that mean that a year from now the terrorists will find an even harder to detect spot — requiring teams of proctological inspectors at airports? That would truly make traveling a pain in the……..
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.