Homeland Security warns airlines of new threat

February 19

The Homeland Security Department has warned airlines that terrorists could try to hide explosives in shoes. It’s the second time in less than three weeks that the government has issued a warning about possible attempts to smuggle explosives onto a commercial jetliner.

Homeland Security said Wednesday it regularly shares relevant information with domestic and international partners, but it declined to discuss specifics of a warning sent to airlines.

“Our security apparatus includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, informed by the latest intelligence and as always DHS continues to adjust security measures to fit an ever evolving threat environment,” the department said in a statement.

A U.S. intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly said the DHS released a notice to airlines reiterating that liquids, shoes and certain cosmetics were of concern. All are covered under existing Transportation Security Administration security policies.

The latest warning was focused on flights headed to the United States from abroad.

This month, Homeland Security warned airlines with flights to Russia to be on the lookout for explosive devices possibly hidden inside toothpaste containers. The Transportation Security Administration then banned passengers from bringing any liquids in their carry-on luggage on nonstop flights from the United States to Russia. That warning became public just days before the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

It is unclear whether the latest warning, first reported Wednesday by NBC News, is related to the earlier threats to Russia-bound flights.

Air passengers in the United States have had to take off their shoes at airport security checkpoints since shortly after Richard Reid tried to ignite explosives hidden in his shoes on a Miami-bound flight in late 2001. Reid pleaded guilty to terrorism charges and is serving a life sentence.

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