Travelers should be used to not hauling ginormous quantities of liquids/gels/aerosols in their carry-ons on airplanes by now, but you might find your tube of toothpaste under extra scrutiny if you’re heading to Russia for the Olympics. Federal officials have issued a warning to U.S. and some foreign airlines to be on the lookout for toothpaste, whose containers could hold ingredients used to make a bomb on a plane.
The Department of Homeland Security provided the warning this week, according to a senior U.S. official who spoke with ABC News. There are no other details about it, or what prompted the warning, but the official said the department “regularly shares relevant information with domestic and international partners, including those associated with international events such as the Sochi Olympics.”
“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 official said. “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.”
Another source in federal law enforcement says the information is mostly for foreign carriers and that the generic threat isn’t aimed at the U.S.
Despite that, American travelers and all those at the Olympic Games should still take the warning seriously, says Rep. Peter King, Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Sub-Committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.
“Any type of explosive, concealed explosive, can be extremely damaging,” he explained. “It could be enough to bring down a plane… This is the type of threat that we’re very concerned about.”
The issue of security in Sochi has been an important one in the months leading up to the Games, and this seems to fit with that — another source said the warning is linked to the arrests of two women in France this week who are of Chechen descent.
In the last three months, Russia has been the target of three suicide bombings attributed to Islamic militants, prompting the U.S. State Department to urge Americans traveling to Sochi to be “vigilant and exercise good judgment” during the Games because of the terror threat.
And just leave your toothpaste in your checked luggage.