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Homeland Security warns airlines of bombs inside toothpaste tubes

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On Wednesday, one day before the Winter Olympics are set to begin, the United States Department of Homeland Security is warning airlines traveling to Russia for the Sochi Olympics to watch out for toothpaste tubes and cosmetic cases that may contain explosives.

ABC News reports that a senior U.S. intelligence official confirmed that toothpaste tubes can hold ingredients that could be used to construct a bomb aboard a plane.

"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," a DHS spokesperson told ABC.

The United States Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that "out of an abundance of caution" it routinely shares "relevant information" with domestic and international entities, "including those associated with international events" like the Sochi Olympics.

The Russian news agency, RIA Novosti reports that Russian transportation officials have banned liquids in airline carry-on luggage ahead of the Sochi games.

Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee's subcommittee on Terrorism and Intelligence, Peter King told Wolf Blitzer on CNN's "The Situation Room" that Americans should take the threat "very seriously."

Rep. King (R-NY) said he believes that the athletes and American spectators are "reasonably safe," but said he would not go himself.

"Just as a spectator, I don't think it's worth the risk. I mean, odds are nothing is going to happen, but the odds are higher than for any other Olympics, I believe, that something could happen."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted that his country is ready for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, which are set to begin on Thursday.

The TSA policy on toothpaste in general, falls under the "3-1-1 rule." On the TSA's official website, it states:

"You may carry liquids, gels and aerosols in your carry-on bags only if they adhere to the 3-1-1 rule: containers must be 3.4 ounces or less; stored in a 1 quart/liter zip-top bag; 1 zip-top bag per person, placed in the screening bin. Larger amounts of non-medicinal liquids, gels, and aerosols must be placed in checked baggage."

Security experts have warned that terrorist organizations have increasingly employed sophisticated bomb making techniques. Recent incidents such as the underwear bomber and the shoe bomber, both failed attempts to detonate bombs in suicide attacks over U.S. cities evidence that airliners are popular targets for terrorists.

However, explosives hidden in toothpaste tubes are nothing new.

In 1989, a five year old girl lost one of her hands and sustained injuries to her eye when she picked up a tube of toothpaste inside a K Mart store near Indianapolis, Indiana. ATF officials later said lab tests confirmed that a bomb was concealed in a pump-type toothpaste dispenser.

Large scale sporting events such as the Super Bowl and the Olympics have long been attractive terrorist targets.

In 1996, the Summer Olympic games were hosted in Atlanta, Georgia were targeted by terrorists. The Centennial Olympic Park terrorist attack in Atlanta killed two and injured 111 people, while another person died of a heart attack.

In April 2013, terrorists from Russia detonated two pressure cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 260 others.



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