Amid an already tense security environment, the United States is now warning airlines flying to the site of Russia's Winter Olympics to be on the lookout for explosive devices disguised as passengers' toiletries that may be used to attack aircraft
Citing unnamed government officials, CNN and ABC News report that the warning was issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to both domestic and foreign airlines. The warning says intelligence reports suggest such containers could be used to store the ingredients for a bomb to be assembled aboard an aircraft. Authorities cautioned that they haven’t identified any specific threat to the U.S., CNN and ABC report.
“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,” an 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.”
Security in the host city of Sochi has been high for months, as the Russian government prepares for the Winter Olympics that start this week while also combating the threat of militants operating in the Caucasus. In the months leading up to the Olympics, terrorist groups have issued threats, and three suicide bombings in as many months have rocked cities in Russia. That has clearly had an impact on observers in the U.S. — in a CNN poll released on Wednesday, 57% of Americans said they believe a terrorist attack at the Sochi Games is likely.
“Out of an abundance of caution, [the Department of Homeland Security] regularly shares relevant information with domestic and international partners, including those associated with international events such as the Sochi Olympics,” the department said in a statement.