Olympics-Bound Airlines Warned of Toothpaste Bombs

Wednesday, 05 Feb 2014 06:41 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Airlines bound for Russia and the Winter Olympics in Sochi are being warned to be on the lookout for toothpaste tubes that could contain bomb-making ingredients and may be smuggled aboard by terrorists, reports said Wednesday.

"Out of an abundance of caution, [the Department of Homeland Security] regularly shares relevant information with domestic and international partners, including those associated with international events such as the Sochi Olympics," says an agency statement obtained by ABC News, NBC News and CNN.

"While we are not aware of a specific threat to the homeland at this time, this routine communication is an important part of our commitment to making sure we meet that priority," the statement says.

"As always, our security apparatus includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, and DHS will continue to adjust security measures to fit an ever-evolving threat environment."

Earlier Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN that "anybody who wants to go to the Olympics, which are just a great event, should go. And we're not telling people not to go."

Kerry's comments came before the advisory was reported, however.

A federal law enforcement source told ABC News the advisory is aimed at foreign airliners — and doesn't relate to the United States. The Russian government has been informed.

But New York Republican Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee's subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence, told CNN the threat should be a heads-up for U.S. travelers, the airlines and officials at the Olympic Games.

"Any type of explosive, concealed explosive, can be extremely damaging," he said. "It could be enough to bring down a plane . . . This is the type of threat that we're very concerned about."

Security in Sochi has been tightened for months, with an eye on Islamic militants in the region. Last month, Russian authorities announced that no liquids would be allowed on planes to Sochi, ABC News reported.

The Games begin Friday.

Sochi is 300 miles from the north Caucasus region, where Islamic militancy is well known.

ABC News reported that Doku Umarov, known as "Russia's Osama bin Laden," reportedly told followers last summer that they should do what they could to disrupt the Games, which he called a "satanic dance" on the bones of their ancestors, ABC News reported.

On Tuesday, counter-terrorism official Matthew Olsen spoke before Congress on whether those Muslim fundamentalists could attack selected targets, CNN reported.

"There are a number of specific threats of varying degrees of credibility that we're tracking," he said. "And we're working very closely with the Russians and with other partners to monitor any threats we see and to disrupt those."

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