Video: U.S.: Terrorists may hide explosives in thermoses

  1. Closed captioning of: U.S.: Terrorists may hide explosives in thermoses

    >>> a new warning is underscoring officials' concerns about an attack. airport screeners are being told to keep a very close eye on insulated beverage containers as you saw right there like thermoses or thermos brand containers. officials warn they could be used to hide explosives, but they stress the intelligence is not attached to any specific threat. roger is a terrorism analyst and the president of good harbor consulting. roger, this has just come out overnight. we're learning about these beverage containers . what are we talking about here?

    >> well, richard, i think we shouldn't overreact to this and i'll tell you why. this is an example where the government picks up information about terrorists looking at innovative and creative ways to evade security. so what they do is they publish this information, push it out to authorities and say look at this as a possibility. as you said, there's no specific threat it's tied to. we also look at all the threats and plots we've been dealing with. they have all been coming from outside the united states . be it the air cargo failed attempt in october. so tsa will pay attention to this but this is not cause for concern as far as i believe.

    >> roger, when we first got that bulletin from the tsa we were going through and trying to understand the beverage contain containers we were talking about so we brought in a couple of examples that might involve what they're saying. this is a thermos brand beverage container with an insulated wall. this is probably more commonly the one that we see when we talk about insulated beverage containers . what i've done is i've put red on the bottom here so you can see the thickness of the wall of such an insulated beverage container. very common, right. you take off the top, pour your drink, drink and put this back on. roger, might what they are concerned about is -- actually i'm crack this open, which is the wall in between.

    >> right.

    >> now, this space when i calculated, it holtz about o -- holds about one cup of a liquid, about eight ounces. what might be able to be slipped inside a thermos like this inside this wall space?

    >> watch out for the explosive eggnog, number one. i think there is always a concern that if you have any type of container where a chemical explosive , petn, some of the things that have been used in the past, maybe even a peroxide-based explosive, although very unstable, that is what tsa would be looking for. there's also the possibility that terrorists in the past have used one container to put one chemical compound in and then brought another container, another compound in a separate item and combined them once they got on the plane. that was what led to the banning of liquids for a while back in 2006 as a result of the heathrow plot. so again, i think this is the government being prudent, but i don't think it's an overreaction. this is creative, adaptive ways that terrorists may try to evade security.

    >> so would such an explosion using, again, eight ounces of liquid that might be able to fit in here, would that be enough to take down a plane?

    >> well, it depends. it depends on what type of chemical calm bound, what type of explosive. it depends where the device is, if it's next to the skin of the aircraft. it could certainly cause a rupture and lead to a structural failure.

    >> i know we have to go but one last question. it has been said that they'll be using some innovative ways perhaps, based on the reports that we were getting from iraqi officials, for instance, on the insurgents that were developing information about a potential holiday attack, they were going to be used in innovative ways. when we look back at history, richard reid with the shoe bomb as well as last year, christmas seems to be a time when innovations do come out when it comes to explosive devices .

    >> well, it's because al qaeda and its affiliates are now looking at the holiday season of particular interest because of all the attention paid to it. everyone traveling. because of the psychological impact that we would deal with if in fact there was a successful attack. typically al qaeda doesn't go after dates or anniversaries, but the holiday season now holds special purpose for them and they want that psychological impact, richard.

    >> hard to believe here, roger, we're talking about these beverage containers , these thermoses which we all see and use in many different places that now we have to be concerned about that perhaps. again, there are no specific pieces of information that relate to this, they're just putting out that warning we're learning in the last 24 hours .

    >> that's right.

    >> thank you very much.

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