With the attempted aircraft bombing by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Christmas Day last year security at airports has been on high alert and talk of introducing full-body scanners is commonplace and has divided opinion. But as the above German video attempts to demonstrate, even a machine able to scan your whole body in a single pass is not going to find some forms of explosive.
To begin with one of the men is scanned by a Redditlol machine which uses similar technology as we see in the airport scanners. The results don’t seem to find anything on his person other than the microphone he is wearing. This is followed by a number of objects being produced from his mouth, upper and lower pockets, and from inside one of his socks. They are just small bottles and we don’t know what they hold inside other than he mentions thermite.
The other English-speaking gentlemen present at the experiment, David Haskett of ThruVision Systems which specializes in body scanners, attempts to explain why the objects weren’t found. His reasoning is that the jacket would have been removed and scanned separately in a real scenario and that, “our technology is used to see things between the skin and the clothes”.
If you then jump forward to the 7:25 mark on the video we see a demonstration of what the materials in the bottles can do when mixed together. The result is quite spectacular and capable of causing a lot of damage in the right location. In this instance it melts through the pan holding the solution.
A larger version of the video is available at YouTube, found via Reddit Twitter feed.
This experiment just proves a fact that I think we all already know. One type of security is never going to be enough to stop someone carrying dangerous materials into a secure location such as an aircraft.
Haskett is right when he states the jacket should have been removed and would have been in an airport. It is also common to see people asked to take their shoes off, and if that was done with a member of airport security nearby they may have seen the bulge in the sock. But that still isn’t enough security in my opinion and wouldn’t have found the vessel in the mouth.
You need scanners, but you also need trained staff to not only body search individuals, but also be capable of spotting people who look nervous, uneasy, etc. It’s very difficult to hide all the signs of being on edge if you are carrying high explosives on your body. We as travellers can also help too if we spot someone suspicious by talking to a member of staff who can check them out. It is, after all, better to be safe and hurt someone’s feelings than sorry afterwards.