The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a warning to U.S. and some foreign airlines traveling to Russia for the Olympic Games to be on the lookout for toothpaste containers, which some intelligence indicates may actually hold ingredients that could be used to construct a bomb aboard a plane.
DHS went on to say that they were NOT aware of a specific threat at this time but viewed this announcement as “routine communication.” Leaks are saying that it is largely intended for foreign carriers and the generic threat is not directed at the U.S. homeland. The Russian government has been informed.
Security in Sochi, Russia, where the Olympics are scheduled to start Friday, has been high for months due to the threat posed to the Games by Islamic militants in the region. Last month Russian authorities announced no liquids would be allowed on planes to Sochi.
Sochi lies on the Black Sea, just 300 miles away from the heartland of an Islamic militancy in the North Caucasus. Doku Umarov, the leader of the insurgents known to some as Russia’s Osama bin Laden, told his followers last summer they should do what they can to disrupt the Games, which he called a “satanic dance” on the bones of their ancestors.
In the past three months, Russia has suffered three suicide bombings in southern cities attributed to the militants. In January the U.S. State Department urged its citizens traveling to Sochi to be “vigilant and exercise good judgment” during the Games because of the terror threat.
In the U.S., the Transportation Security Administration allows small containers of toothpaste, 3.4 ounces or less, in travelers’ checked luggage.