NYC Airport Security Tightened As Intel Shows Terrorists Envision Bombs in Bodies

Airport pat-downs are about to get worse.

By Pat Battle
|  Wednesday, Jul 6, 2011  |  Updated 5:48 PM EDT
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Tri-state travelers are likely to see closer pat-downs and stricter security at airport checkpoints, as new intelligence indicates terrorists have discussed surgically implanting explosive devices or components inside their bodies.

The Transportation Security Administration said in a statement that passengers flying from overseas into the U.S. "may notice additional security measures in place."

That includes travelers at the metro area's three major airports.

"These measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same activity at every international airport," the TSA said. "Measures may include interaction with passengers, in addition to the use of other screening methods such as pat-downs and the use of enhanced tools and technologies."

Travelers at Newark Liberty International Airport said tighter security is just a fact of life now.

"I think we learned a lesson after 9/11 when we ignored the warning signs that were there," said Tim Gordon, of Chatham.

"Who knows what they can think of? They're consumed with it," said Rob Thorne, of New Milford.

There is no intelligence pointing to a specific plot, but the U.S. shared its concerns last week with executives at domestic and international carriers.

Placing explosives and explosive components inside humans to hide bombs and evade security measures is not a new idea. But there is new intelligence pointing to a renewed interest in using this tactic, NBC News has learned.

Security consultant Sal Lifrieri said hiding explosives in the body is the easier part.

"But to get it to the explosive stage as an operational device is more more difficult," he said.

When the U.S. government receives information suggesting terror tactics that could threaten commercial aviation, the TSA alerts companies domestically and abroad.

Last December, the U.S. received intelligence that al-Qaida's Yemen branch was considering hiding explosives inside insulated beverage containers to carry them on airplanes. That warning was shared with domestic and foreign airlines so that security could be on the lookout, even though there was no specific plot.

Airport security has increased markedly since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. But terrorists remain interested in attacking aviation and continue to adapt to the new security measures by trying to develop ways to circumvent them.

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