With the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death looming, American and European authorities told ABC News today that they fear al Qaeda may soon try to explode U.S.-bound aircraft with explosives hidden inside the bodies of terrorists.
As a result, security at several airports in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East has been substantially stepped up, with a focus on U.S. carriers.
Additional federal air marshals have also been shifted overseas in advance of the anniversary. A year ago Tuesday night, President Obama announced on live television that bin Laden had been killed in a U.S. raid on a compound in Pakistan.
Medical experts say there is plenty of room in the stomach area of the body for surgically implanted explosives. “The surgeon would open the abdominal cavity and literally implant the explosive device in amongst the internal organs,” explained Dr. Mark Melrose, a New York emergency medicine specialist.
For the last year, U.S. and European authorities have publicly warned that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate, and its master bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, have been designing body bombs with no metal parts to get past airport security.
“We are treating the information seriously,” John Pistole, administrator of the Transportation Security Administration, told ABC News in 2011.