Altimeter Watches Now a Terrorism Threat
This story is so idiotic that I have trouble believing it’s true. According to MSNBC:
An advisory issued Monday by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI urges the Transportation Security Administration to have airport screeners keep an eye out for wristwatches containing cigarette lighters or altimeters.
The notice says “recent intelligence suggests al-Qaida has expressed interest in obtaining wristwatches with a hidden butane-lighter function and Casio watches with an altimeter function. Casio watches have been extensively used by al-Qaida and associated organizations as timers for improvised explosive devices. The Casio brand is likely chosen due to its worldwide availability and inexpensive price.”
Clocks and watches definitely make good device timers for remotely triggered bombs. In this scenario, the person carrying the watch is an innocent. (Otherwise he wouldn’t need a remote triggering device; he could set the bomb off himself.) This implies that the bomb is stuffed inside the functional watch. But if you assume a bomb as small as the non-functioning space in a wristwatch can blow up an airplane, you’ve got problems far bigger than one particular brand of wristwatch. This story simply makes no sense.
And, like most of the random “alerts” from the DHS, it’s not based on any real facts:
The advisory notes that there is no specific information indicating any terrorist plans to use the devices, but it urges screeners to watch for them.
I wish the DHS were half as good at keeping people safe as they are at scaring people. (I’ve written more about that here.)