A toothpaste alert has been issued for airlines flying to America from Russia, warning them that terrorists may try to smuggle explosive materials on board concealed in toothpaste or cosmetic tubes.
A law enforcement source discussed the alert on Wednesday, saying that while there are no concrete threats, US officials remain on edge as the Winter Olympics are set to begin in Sochi.
“It’s real. It’s real and we got very good information,” an unnamed government source told CNN. “It’s based on a credible source. We’re taking it seriously so are other countries taking it very seriously.”
The toothpaste warning was not officially disseminated to the public, and the officials spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Russian transportation officials have already banned liquids in carry-on luggage ahead of the toothpaste alert, a report from the Russian news agency RA Novosti noted.
Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s subcommittee on Terrorism and Intelligence, said this week that American spectators to the Sochi Olympics would be “reasonably safe” but said he would not risk going himself. King said he has confidence in how Russians are handling security, but has some reservations “because they are not sharing enough intelligence” about possible threats inside the country.
“We are getting some information about what’s happening outside of Russia, some external threats, that type thing, or potential threats. I don’t want to overstate that,” he said.
The toothpaste alert follows in some other attempted attacks on airplanes using improvised explosives. Shortly after 9/11, Richard Reid attempted to blow up an airplane using explosives hidden within a shoe, but passengers prevented him from lighting the shoe.
Another attempted attack came on Christmas Day in 2009, when a terrorist tried to blow up an overseas flight headed to Detroit by hiding a bomb in his underwear.
A different kind of toothpaste alert was sounded at JFK last year. In April, one of America’s busiest airports was evacuated for a suspicious package that turned out to be a tube of toothpaste wrapped in duct tape.