October 7, 2008

U.S. Testing Airport-Lobby Bomb Scanners

U.S. officials say they are looking at a new type of scanner that will detect explosive vests worn by terrorists at airport terminals.

The idea is to foil a suicide bombing carried out in a terminal lobby or baggage claim area where there are a lot of people who may not have gone through passenger checkpoints.

"As you close up holes (on airplanes), terrorists have to find other ways to set something off," aviation-security consultant Rich Roth told USA Today, adding that an airport attack "is what everybody is afraid of, and it's a valid fear."

The newspaper said Tuesday that the Transportation Security Administration recently tested a lobby scanner that picks up dense objects such as bombs on passersby as much as 30 feet away.

The tests in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul -- the cities that hosted this year's presidential conventions -- resulted in four people being questioned.

The scanners are mounted on a tripod and automatically alert police when something suspicious is detected. They do not rely on X-rays so they pose no apparent health risk.