NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned airlines Wednesday to be aware of new chatter about explosives placed in shoes.
The department said there is no new threat, but there is a renewed threat stream of terrorists trying to carry explosives in shoes. The talk of a potential threat was sufficient enough to cause DHS to issue an advisory to airlines and security officials worldwide, CBS News reported.
The threat appeared to be focused on flights to the U.S. from overseas locations. Increased security is expected in the form of more pat-downs and checks of shoes, CBS News reported.
Penny Lowe told CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco that she experienced the increased measures Monday before she flew from London’s Heathrow Airport to Newark.
“I went through security and I beeped, and it was because I had the watch on,” she said. ” … Then they made me take the shoes off and the watch and they put them through the scanner, but they put them through a different scanner, miles away from where we were going through.”
DHS said the alert was put out under an “abundance of caution,” CBS News reported.
One intelligence official said terrorists remain interested in the shoe threat and there has been renewed discussions about it.
Most travelers told Carrasco they don’t mind if airport screeners are overly cautious.
“I want to protect my family, so I’m happy to go through the inconvenience of taking my shoes off,” said traveler Adam Phillips.
“If they want to check our shoes, it’s fine, you know?” added Liz Ward.
The concern about terrorists attempting to detonate explosives in their shoes dates back to 2001, when a U.K. citizen named Richard Reid did just that. In December of that year – just a few months after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Reid tried to kill 197 passengers and crew members aboard an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami by detonating explosives in his shoes.
Reid pleaded guilty the following year. He said he was a follower of Osama bin Laden and did not recognize the American justice system, but admitted to the acts outlined in an indictment against him. He was sentenced to life in prison.
In the more than 12 years since, Transportation Security Administration agents have asked travelers to doff their shoes at airport security checkpoints as a matter of standard operating procedure.
Under current TSA regulations, passengers 12 and under or 75 and over, members of the military, and those who precheck with the agency do not have to take off their shoes at checkpoints.
All other passengers must undergo shoe screening, and passengers with a disability or hindering medical condition that prevents them from removing their shoes may be screened using alternative methods.
The regulations apply to both domestic and international flights from the U.S.
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