US issues toothpaste tube terror warning

Feb 5, 2014 4:48 PM


The United States has warned airlines that terrorists looking to disrupt the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, could conceal bomb-making components in toothpaste tubes, CBS News confirmed Wednesday.

Once they were smuggled aboard a plane, the components could be removed from the tube and used to construct a bomb, according to U.S. officials.

The Department of Homeland Security has issued the warning to U.S. airlines and some foreign airlines as well. A security official told CBS News the new warning refers to flights from airports outside the United States headed to Russia during the Winter Olympics.

The U.S. currently has regulations banning passengers from bringing on board any containers with more than 3 fluid ounces of any liquid or gel. That includes toothpaste containers.

Officials are not aware of any specific threat stemming from toothpaste tubes and the Homeland Security may be issuing the warning out of an abundance of caution, a federal terrorism official told CBS News.

"To make people aware is a good thing," the source said.

"Technically, toothpaste tubes could be used to conceal bomb-making ingredients, just like printer cartridges or a shoe. This may be the new hot item," the source said.

While Russia says it has established a "ring of steel" around the Olympic venues, there have been widespread concerns that Muslim militants from the Caucasus could attack the games. Some U.S. athletes have said they have asked their families to stay home.

Russian authorities have issued wanted posters for so-called "black widows," women whose husbands, brothers or fathers have been killed by Russian security forces and may be seeking revenge.

Russian security services have waged a take-no-prisoners assault in Dagestan, just a few hundred miles from Sochi. Dagestan, along with neighboring Chechnya, is home to an Islamic insurgency that has been battling Russian forces for years.

It's where Tamerlan Tsarnaev lived for months before authorities say he and his brother launched a bomb attack on the Boston Marathon last April.

The State Department has advised Americans traveling to the Olympics to “remain attentive regarding their personal security at all times.”

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