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Are terrorists sneaking bombs in Toothpaste containers?

 
 
NickFun
 
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 12:06 am
Recently I was on a flight from LA to Chicago. Without thinking, I brought my large tube of toothpaste. It made it through checkout at LAX with no trouble. I brought it to Chicago, hapilly brushed my teeth with it several times over the course of four days and all was right with the world.

However, on the way back, a sharp-eyed security man at O'Hare saw the monstrous tube. "Sir, we must take that from you", he said

I was dumbfounded. "My toothpaste?" I asked incredulously. "Why do you have to take my toothpaste?"

"It's too large sir. You are only permitted to travel with travel size toothpaste".

I was a bit belligerent. "It wasn't a danger in Los Angeles!"

He was insistent. "Sir, give us the toothpaste or we'll have to get some security people here".

He took my toothpaste and threw it in a large plastic trash can. I managed to glance inside the can and saw it stacked with shampoos, toothpastes, deodorants and several other bottles I could not immediately identify.

Now, assuming these items were indeed cleverly designed explosives, why was the trash can right next to the place where thousands of people check their bags every hour? Shouldn't a bomb disposal expert have been called in every time this man confiscated toiletries? If only one of those 'explosives' went off it would surely create a chain reaction that would set off all the other tubes in the can thus resulting in an enormous explosion that would result in massive death and destruction!

Undoubtedly, the can was later picked up by a maintenance worker and dumped outside without so much as a dog sniffing it to make sure it's safe. Thus, the dumpster could have exploded!

Is there something wrong here or is it me?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 2,143 • Replies: 8
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 12:16 am
@NickFun,
'Course if you brushed your teeth with baking powder like people used to, they'd be all over you..

I don't know the answer, it all seems surreal. On the other hands, there was the guy with the explosive in his shoe..
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 12:40 am
@NickFun,
This all started because of a plot to use binary bombs based on ordinary household substances.

If you really want to know about this in detail here is a post I wrote on it a long time ago:

Quote:
Liquids were banned on flights to certain countries simply because it was a good way to disguise a binary liquid bomb in theory. The problem with all of this in practice is that the binary liquid bomb they are afraid of isn't really a legitimate threat.

It's been hard for me to find out exactly what they were afraid of because many media outlets are practicing "voluntary censorship" of the household substances that can supposedly be mixed on a plane to take it down. But some mention hydrogen peroxide while omitting the others so it's clear they are afraid of a triacetone triperoxide bomb.

Thing is, that's daft. It just sounds cool but the challenges of pulling it off are bigger than just going for a conventional explosive and the destructive power is limited. It gets the security nerds all riled up because they imagine that terrorists can get past them with substances that are individually not detected as a threat and then mix it to cause damage. It freaks them out because the only clever thing, even in theory, about it all is how it gets past security and that it would be next to impossible for it to work in the way that the terrorists expect is lost on them.

So they are terrified that this hydrogen peroxide, acetone, and sulfuric acid mix can get past them individually in common household items since each are common in products widely available. Hydrogen peroxide is used in hair dye, acetone in things like paint thinner, and sulfuric acid is used in drain cleaners like Draino and their fear is that each can get past undetected (and can be brought by separate passengers) and then mixed in flight to cause devastation.

The problem is that even under the best of conditions, they would be highly unlikely to cause damage beyond perhaps burning something or killing a person or two. And even to achieve this they have to do things that are fairly suspicious with temperature control, and precise measurements. They would also have to perform a lot of dangerous chemistry to get it to this point and the whole thing needs perfect conditions to do much damage at all and is the chemical instability itself and the airplane conditions make this an absurd scenario to be worried about so specifically.

So maybe they should just look out for the guy in the plane with a substantial amount of liquid packed in an ice bucket checking its temperature while stirring in another liquid drop by drop. Because that guy might be able to kill one or two people if his binary bomb achieves perfection. Then again the team of people that brought it in separately could probably strangle someone with a shoestring for the same effort and with about the same chances of success.

Being more focused on liquids and other attack vectors is a good thing, the liquid ban is a bit silly because what they are afraid of won't work and they are targeting a method to get a theoretical bomb past them (a binary bomb brought onto the plane by separate passengers) and not an actual proven danger.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 12:46 am
@Robert Gentel,
And here's a good article about what they are afraid of:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/08/17/flying_toilet_terror_labs/
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 05:03 am
@NickFun,
You got a point, nick. Perhaps there should be a conveyor belt that could carry confiscated items to a safe location the very moment they are taken.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 05:16 am
Quote:
Are terrorists sneaking bombs in Toothpaste containers?

That 's ONE way to end tooth decay.
0 Replies
 
Endymion
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 10:10 am
@NickFun,
Airports in talks to lift security ban on liquids

The government is in discussions with security companies and Britain's airports to lift the ban on liquids being carried in hand luggage as early as next year, The Independent has learnt.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/airports-in-talks-to-lift-security-ban-on-liquids-924491.html
0 Replies
 
Ramafuchs
 
  -1  
Reply Mon 15 Sep, 2008 10:07 pm
@NickFun,
I still search the original 19 terrorists who had rejuvenated the global economy.
But i am afraid that those terrorists are not toothpaste containers but admired idols for some.
0 Replies
 
Ramafuchs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 18 Sep, 2008 09:45 pm
@NickFun,
Nickfun
Don't you think some crazy youths who had studied a little bit in colleges and who belong to a moderate family made a havoc around the globe are the lesser evil than those who compete with those rascals to establish their legitimacy of the title "TERRORIST"
No Nickfun toothpaste is a long pistal. .
Real terrorists are hiden ina mustard.
0 Replies
 
 

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