Toothpaste Alert? Legitimate Fear, Bizarre Sources

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According to CNN, the United States is telling all airlines headed for Russia to be on the lookout for something peculiar: toothpaste.

The House Homeland Security Committee's chairman said Wednesday night that they believed that there is a possibility that individuals would attempt to smuggle explosive materials in toothpaste tubes and cosmetic cases. Sochi, where the Winter Olympics is being hosted, is the anticipated target of these efforts.

CNN says that a law enforcement source told them that the concern of the officials is limited to the immediate start of the games. Even though U.S. officials are confident about the level of security around Sochi and the actual Olympic games, they say they have heard an increased amount of discussion regarding the targeting of places outside of Sochi, such as public transportation.

For those that are monitoring the issues with terrorism in Russia, the Caucasus region has been a particularly active source of extremist activity. At the same time, the United States is concerned about the possibility of al Qaeda-related terrorism.

There were letters sent to several European nations and the United States back in January that threatened Olympians through a possible bombing. Though the letters were dismissed at the time, it may be possible that the latest intelligence may make officials take a closer look.

As for this new information, as bizarre as it is to connect toothpaste with terrorism, the authorities feel this lead to be true.

"It's real. It's real and we got very good information," an anonymous government official told the network, "It's based on a credible source. We're taking it seriously."

When it comes to threats on the United States, it appears for now there is no major concern about any related or unrelated threats at this time. However, there is concern for Americans who are traveling to Russia to watch the games or participate.

The Obama administration has not declared the event unsafe for Americans to travel to despite the concerns about terrorism. Secretary of State John Kerry says the US isn't telling people not to go. "...Anybody who wants to go to the Olympics, which are just a great event, should go."

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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