Authorities in the United States are issuing a toothpaste alert warning travelers over direct flights serving Russia, CNN reported Wednesday. The concern is that explosive materials could be secreted in toothpaste or cosmetic tubes.
Congressman Michael McCaul, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, said that the Department of Homeland Security issued the bulletin to airlines flying into Russia
McCaul said that the so-called 'toothpaste alert' indicated that officials believed the explosives might be used during flights headed to Russia and mos specifically, the Sochi Winter Olympic games which begin on Friday.
"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 federal security official told ABC News. "As always, our security apparatus includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, and DHS will continue to adjust security measures to fit an ever evolving threat environment."
"It's real. It's real and we got very good information," a government source, who did not want to speak for full attribution, told CNN. "It's based on a credible source. We're taking it seriously. So are other countries . ..."
The alert was issued by Homeland Security "out of an abundance of caution"
Flights over Europe
Most direct flights into from the US Russian fly over Europe. Russia has banned liquids in airline carry-on luggage. A former airline security chief told CNN that the threat prompted airlines to clamp down on on toothpaste and cosmetics.
"My prediction is that they will give a direct order that they'll be removing toothpaste from passenger's hand-carried items" said Glen Winn, a former security director at United and Continental airlines. Winn added that the ban may possibly be extended to checked luggage.
The US Dept. of Homeland Security did not say what kind of actions it is considering in the wake of the threat.
Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee's subcommittee on terrorism and Intelligence, told CNN that Americans should take the toothpaste threat "very seriously."
"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," he said.
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