Air travelers might have had to undergo embarrassing and somewhat painful “cavity” searches if the airport staff suspected they were a threat. However, one wouldn’t normally expect an animal to be subjected to such a humiliating security protocol, but in the land of China, no one is exempt, when it comes to national security.
Officials in China just inspected over 10,000 pigeons for a suspected terrorist attack. These pigeons were part of China’s National Day. Before they were released, these pigeons had to undergo a rather thorough inspection.
According to reports from state-run media outlets, the birds had their feathers, legs, and anuses searched for “suspicious objects”, reported The Independent. Only after the officials deemed the birds safe for release, were these winged creatures, packed onto a truck and sent to Tiananmen Square in Beijing for the ceremony. However, you won’t find much mention of such an incident, because many reports on the probe disappeared from China’s tightly-controlled media shortly after being published.
None of the reports were able to positively identify exactly what the officials were searching for, but security has been heightened following a spate of attacks. Beijing has categorically blamed the separatist groups, namely the Uighurs.
Uighurs, a Muslim minority in the western province of Xinjiang, has long sought greater autonomy from China. For some months now, these groups have stepped up their efforts, but anticipating the same, China has been conducting raids and executing judicial crackdowns. Last year, an SUV drove into a crowd and burst into flames, killing five people; in March, 29 people were killed by a group of attackers in a Beijing train station, reported Washington Post. Though the separatists haven’t claimed responsibility, an apprehensive Beijing responded by sentencing a Uighur advocate to life in prison.
How could a pigeon be used to orchestrate an attack? A Trojan pigeon attack may sound far-fetched, but it’s not impossible, according to pigeon experts. They are an intelligent species with a strong sense of direction. Moreover, they are docile and can be trained to follow a series of instructions. New York Times, quoted a representative from the pigeon fan site China Pigeon Net.
“I have not heard of pigeons released at National Day requiring security checks, but it is possible for them to carry things such as explosives. They could carry something on their legs, under a wing, or in their anus.”
[Image Credit | Northrup, Reuters]