NEWS

Pets Receive X-Ray Security Screening for Bombs at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport

By Matthew Harwood

An al Qaeda affiliate's failed attempt to assassinate a Saudi prince last August by hiding a bomb inside a suicide bomber's rectum has led Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport to now screen for pet-borne improvised explosive devices, reports The Jerusalem Post.

The paper reports that Israeli security services have ordered national airports to screen suspicious pets for fear terrorists may try to hide bombs inside them. "[S]ecurity screeners at airports have received new instructions requiring them to pass dogs and cats and other pets of suspicious passengers through X-ray machines."

Airport security officials would neither confirm nor deny the pet-screening policy for the Post. Airport Authority spokeswoman Ma’ayan Malchin told the English-language newspaper, “For obvious reasons, the authority does not elaborate or discuss the procedures and security checks with the media.”

While neither the airport nor the airport authority would verify whether the policy existed, the Post reports that NRG, a Hebrew-language news Web site, found two cases where security wanted to screen travelers' pets.

One American tourist was required to put her cat through the X-ray. She initially refused, but after being told she would be barred from the flight if she didn’t oblige, she changed her mind. The cat was scanned, and cleared of all suspicion, and both were allowed to continue on their way.

In another incident, a passenger who refused to allow his two cats to be scanned was reportedly not allowed to fly.

While the screening practice may seem absurd, the Post lists several past terrorist and militant attacks inside Israel that attempted to weaponize donkeys and donkey carts. And last August, 23-year-old jihadist Abdullah Hassan Tali' al-Asiri allegedly hid an improvised explosive device inside his anal cavity and detonated it during an attempt on the life of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the kingdom's top counterterrorism official.The prince survived the gruesome attack with minor injuries, but al-Asiri was reportedly ripped into 70 pieces.

Israeli security systems are apparently concerned that terrorists could take the keister-bomber concept and apply it to a dog or a cat. Eytan Kreiner, who founded a company devoted to travel for pets to and from Israel, isn't sure this screening policy is as novel as many people assume.

"Animals have to be screened like everyone else. It seems that Israeli security officials want to publicize this now, to deter someone from trying it," he told the Post. As a board member of the International Vet Transportation Association for Animals, Kreiner said the organization is lobbying to reduce the radiation exposure animals receive when they are screened.

In the aftermath of the August assassination attempt, the Times (of London) reported French antiterrorism officials could recommend passengers receive X-ray screening reserved for suspected drug mules.


♦ Photo of puppy inside carry-on bag by tombothetominator/Flickr

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