A terrorist group’s call for new attacks on U.S. airliners, an online “recipe” for detection-proof bombs and recent events in France and elsewhere have prompted federal authorities to order random searches of travelers and carry-on bags at U.S. airports.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson met with airline security officials to brief them about the elevated threat, which came in the latest issue of Al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine. The online publication provided a guide to making the explosives, getting through security and even instructed suicide bombers on where to sit on the plane.
"[T]he reasons for these measures should be self-evident to the public: the recent attacks in Paris, Ottawa, Sydney, and elsewhere ... "
- Jeh Johnson, DHS secretary
“We have no specific, credible intelligence of an attack of the kind in Paris last week being planned by terrorist organizations in this country,” Johnson said in a statement. “But, the reasons for these measures should be self-evident to the public: the recent attacks in Paris, Ottawa, Sydney, and elsewhere, along with the recent public calls by terrorist organizations for attacks on Western objectives, including aircraft, military personnel, and government installations and civilian personnel.”
The Transportation Security Administration has already stepped up random searches of travelers and carry-on luggage in addition to the enhanced screening that was ordered this summer at key airports.
The bomb-making recipe, published last month in the most recent edition of Inspire, the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) English-language magazine, sent a chilling message to the West.
“We spared no effort in simplifying the idea in such we made it ‘another meal prepared in the kitchen’ so that every determined Muslim can prepare,” states the magazine article, titled, “How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”
Experts have said the bomb-making instructions are highly sophisticated and could pose a problem, especially in smaller airports that don’t employ high-tech body-imaging security devices. The terror network is constantly seeking new ways to get explosives onto planes, according to Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst at Clarion Project, a New York-based research institute that monitors the threat of terrorism.
"The chief Al-Qaeda bombmaker Ibrahim Al-Asiri is innovative in his designs and isn't to be underestimated," Mauro told FoxNews.com. "For Al Qaeda, it is still somewhat of a victory if they can get an explosive on an airliner or even just inside an airport, regardless of whether the device ignites properly.
"Counter-terrorism personnel mention him to me even more than they mention Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri," he added.
AQAP was behind the failed “underwear bomb” attack on Christmas Day, 2009. In that case, Farouk Abdulmuttalab tried to take down a Michigan-bound plane in U.S. airspace, but the bomb did not detonate.
Last week the State Department updated its Worldwide Caution travel alert to all Americans abroad.
“Recent terrorist attacks, whether by those affiliated with terrorist entities, copycats, or individual perpetrators, serve as a reminder that U.S. citizens need to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness,” the alert said.
Inspire magazine has previously published several "how-to" articles, including one on making bombs out of pressure cookers. That article ran prior to the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, in which two radicalized immigrants used two of the modified kitchen devices to kill three people and injure more than 200.