Thursday, July 7, 2011

Flying the Unfriendly Skies: Up Next - Screening for Body Implants?

NBC broke the news that the U.S. government has told overseas airlines that fly into the country that foreign terrorists have discussed the possibility of surgically implanting explosive devices into air travelers. Just so you won't get scared out of your wits, NBC adds:

"There is no indication of a plot at the moment, according to an official familiar with the intelligence. Instead, terrorists are considering how devices or components could be implanted in passengers flying into the U.S. from abroad."

Right after the underpants bomber's failed attempt, I wondered how long before breast implants make it to the official warning lingo.

On March 2010, DHS/CBP issued a female suicide bomber threat assessment. Via Public Intelligence:
"Al-Qa’ida, reportedly, is considering using breast implants as a means to conceal explosives, which would be detonated by a liquid filled syringe that would replicate diabetics injecting insulin. Diabetic supplies (insulin and syringes) are not prohibited items on airliners."

But the latest report is not even talking about just breast implants. Do you have any idea how many kinds of body implants are out there?

According to, implants for medical or functional reasons are implant surgery (pec implants, calf implants, deltoid implants, bicep/tricep implants) that include surgical reconstruction of affected areas due to vehicular mishaps, injuries or congenital issues. Body implants for aesthetic reasons include buttock implants, cosmetic hip implants, and breast implant procedures which are "largely driven by individual wants and expectations."

But those are not the only implants done out there.  The Wikipedia list also includes the following that all sounds painful:

These procedures are apparently not easy nor are they performed by all cosmetic surgeons; they also are not cheap. Note that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's parcel bomb plot aka: 'Operation Hemorrhage' reportedly only cost $4,200 -- about how much a fancy coffee machine cost in US dollars.  Body implants on the other hand such as breast implants can cost anywhere from $5,000-$8,000; butt implants from $7,500-$9,000; tummy tuck from $7,500-$10,000, not sure how much is a tummy bump, can't plant a bomb in a flat stomach, right?

One of the talking heads on teevee said that surgical implantation is hard and that AQ has yet to perfect this.  Of course. Even if this is all talk, if this catches on and TSA reacts with another layer of screening and folks get scared out of their wits, then even the scaredy talk has done its part in advancing the goals of the terrorists; if not casualties then widespread fear.  On the other hand, given that there was an unsuccessful anal cavity bomber in 2009, this cannot be underestimated. The bad guys out there may be willing to die of tetanus or on the practice table of a rogue cosmetic/implant surgeon in the name of their cause. With enough practice, they may even deliver an eyeball implant that shoots death rays one of these days or a super EMP burst from an eyeball that can knock out the plane's electronic systems.

But not to lose sleep or anything, Danger Room reports on the next stage of job creation in the airport security industry:
"Already, airport security companies cackling at the chance to develop new detection tech for surgically implanted bombs. An Indiana company claims to have developed an imagery machine that can find “explosive materials, narcotics, and low-density plastics hidden inside or outside of the human body,” according to its CEO, by analyzing X-rays scattered or refracted from the body’s soft tissue."
Every scaredy news is a business opportunity.


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