DHS Warns of Female Suicide Bombers

First paragraph:

Terrorists increasingly favor using women as suicide bombers to thwart security and draw attention to their causes, a new FBI-Department of Homeland Security assessment concludes.

Photo caption:

Female suicide bombers can use devices to make them appear pregnant, a security assessment says.

Second paragraph:

The assessment said the agencies “have no specific, credible intelligence indicating that terrorist organizations intend to utilize female suicide bombers against targets in the homeland.”

Does the DHS think we’re idiots or something?

Posted on February 13, 2008 at 12:35 PM84 Comments


Albatross February 13, 2008 12:57 PM

“Does the DHS think we’re idiots or something?”

For more than six years they’ve been issuing fake security alerts (til they stopped issuing any at all), tapping our phones, and watching us throw away water and take off our shoes and belts knowing full well that these humiliations do nothing to increase security… and you have to ask?

Do they THINK we’re idiots?

They COUNT on it!

Frank Ch. Eigler February 13, 2008 1:04 PM

Does the DHS think we’re idiots or something?

Back into the one-liner joke closet again with you!
What DHS claim do you consider false?

Anonymous February 13, 2008 1:17 PM

Hilariously, after the article says that “Women may gain access to targets more easily, advisory says”, I see at the bottom a picture of Hillary Clinton and the caption “Clinton targets Texas as Obama surges”.

Is Clinton pregnant? Someone oughta check! ;-/

More seriously, we have the comment from @Frank Ch. Eigler

“What DHS claim do you consider false?”

If DHS reported that terrorists are using invisible space aliens as attack vehicles,
do we

0) Cower in fear, supplicating ourselves to the unerring masters of security from on high,


1) Ask if DHS thinks we are all terminally credulous idiots,


2) Politely request that DHS only notify us when credible, incontrovertible, evidence is at hand regarding a threat. Especially if DHS appends the disclaimer to the effect there is currently no evidence the described threat is in fact real.

In essence, Mr. Eigler, the onus is on DHS to demonstrate their claims, not us to disprove them. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

Anonymous coward February 13, 2008 1:24 PM

Does the DHS think we’re idiots or something?

Pointless question. We already know why things are like they are. DHS and TSA are under heavy political pressure from the current administration, to make it look like they are doing something and to justify the “war on terrorism”.

Question is whether this nonsense will end after the presidential elections and the whole Iraq thing or will they find another reason to keep this up?

xd0s February 13, 2008 1:35 PM

Also, unless I’m mistaken (and I certianly might be on this one) the actual data showing “increasingly favor using women as suicide bombers” is really an increase from 0 (or darn close to it), to 2 in a single incident in Iraq. I can only recall one other mention of a woman suicide bomber and it was a while back.

I am not a math major, but a single point of data can’t make a line to project any trends. If you count the 1 prior and the 1 now, against other threats and terrorist activities I’m betting it still looks close enough to be considered 0.

Then they also note they have no evidence that this threat might be real. About as effective as saying the boogey man is gonna get you.

I’m convinced that DHS doesn’t believe we are idiots, but rather they are intent on proving they are.

Nomen Publicus February 13, 2008 1:38 PM

If the DHS are allowed to just imagine a threat and then issue a press release, how is that different to the annual movie threat competition?

When the “security” forces are afraid of everything accidents will happen. Do we really have to have some pregnant tourist gunned down in an airport before someone takes charge of these fools?

Alf Watt February 13, 2008 1:38 PM

So, can we look forward to manditory ultrasounds for pregnant women getting on commercial aircraft? A ban on all air-travel in the third trimester?

Aarjav February 13, 2008 1:50 PM

This is asinine. All this will accomplish is it will scare some peabrained TSA guard to mistreat pregnant brown women. What is the point of publishing warnings that are based on no credible information?

technicality February 13, 2008 1:51 PM

There’s no credible evidence suggesting the method will be used against the “homeland,” which says nothing about elsewhere.

d.s.g.h. February 13, 2008 1:52 PM

What if a pregnant woman will get tazed because of this and the child dies?

OMG, you poor, poor americans…

Post-event February 13, 2008 1:55 PM

“Politely request that DHS only notify us when credible, incontrovertible, evidence is at hand regarding a threat.”

Might want to rethink that one.

Lyle February 13, 2008 2:05 PM

I don’t fault the DHS for this one, I fault CNN. The DHS did not hold a press conference for the public, they distributed a memo to law enforcement reminding them that they should not focus on brown-skinned men with facial hair to the exclusion of all else. That’s what you’ve been saying all along, isn’t it?

“CNN obtained a copy of the report”

Victor Williams February 13, 2008 2:14 PM

It may not have happened here, but it already has happened. Check out Israel, the perpetual canary in the coal mine – including “pregnant” homicide bombers using their “payload” to simulate the pregnancy.

Kerub February 13, 2008 2:16 PM

Women suicide bomber faking pregnancy.

mmh, I guess it would be more difficult with males.

Hey dude! Is that an explosive device or you’re that happy to see me?

Grahame February 13, 2008 2:39 PM

Douglas Adams wrote about someone who created an asylum to hold the world in. He did it because he found instructions on a toothpick packet. That was funny. Instructions on a toothpick packet are harmless.

This isn’t harmless.

Time to build an asylum, I think.

clipperskipper February 13, 2008 2:57 PM

When thousands of bureaucrats are allowed to sit around and dream up possible attack scenarios, they come up with stuff like this. Are mommy bombs possible? Of course. Is it useful information? Almost certainly, no. Does it contribute to job security at the DHS? Almost certainly, yes. Mission accomplished.

SMAWG February 13, 2008 3:07 PM

Ever since they introduced the three-ounces-of-liquid rule I’ve been waiting for one of these TSA screeners to refuse to let Pam Anderson board the plane…

And I don’t know why they’d focus on women… I’ve flown many times since 9/11 with a lethal weapon in my pants! You ladies know what I’m sayin’…

Frank Ch. Eigler February 13, 2008 3:15 PM

@Atheist @01:17PM

So you are of the opinion that the very idea of a female fake pregnant suicide bomber is a figment of the DHS’ imagination? You’re just not well informed, but a bit of googling can fix that.

Your bigger problem may be the lack of appreciation about just how sick these animals are.

Harrow February 13, 2008 3:19 PM

“The assessment highlighted the February 1 bombings in Baghdad in which two women, who appeared to have Down syndrome, attacked two pet markets.”

When terrorists are reduced to exploiting the mentally handicapped, their targeting accuracy is bound to suffer. No doubt those two unfortunates were told to “Kill the foreign dogs and their Persian lackeys,” and just did the best they could.


Anonymous February 13, 2008 3:21 PM

@Frank Ch. Eigler

“So you are of the opinion that the very idea of a female fake pregnant suicide bomber is a figment of the DHS’ imagination? ”

Not only am I of this opinion, but given the DHS itself said there is “no specific, credible intelligence indicating that terrorist organizations intend to utilize female suicide bombers against targets in the homeland”, I think we can safely say even the DHS has this opinion too.

Infosponge February 13, 2008 3:25 PM

The intensity of raving lunatic alarmism from the DHS is directly proportional to the proximity of elections and congressional votes of serious interest to the administration.

They’re going to be pulling all the stops out as November gets closer.

HAHAHA February 13, 2008 3:29 PM

I love all the security “experts” here. Just like armchair quarterbacks, they are a dime a dozen.

Frank Ch. Eigler February 13, 2008 3:33 PM

@Anonymous @03:21 PM

So you are of the opinion that the very idea of a female fake pregnant suicide bomber is a figment of the DHS’ imagination? ”

Not only am I of this opinion, but given the DHS itself said […]

… nothing of the sort. That such attacks have occurred somewhere in the world is a fact.

Infosponge February 13, 2008 3:42 PM

@Frank Ch. Eigler, Victor Williams, and any other crazed wingnuts reading this:

There is no global unified front of Islamic Terrorism.

Do not conflate the interests, capabilities, resources and motives of terrorist groups capable of attacking the domestic US with the interests, capabilities, resources and motives of terrorist groups active in Israel, Israeli-occupied Palestine, and occupied Iraq.

The 1 Feb bombings in Iraq do not in any way suggest that al Quaeda would (or could) attempt suicide bombings using similar methods within the United States.

Stop wetting your pants over improbable threats.

Anonymous February 13, 2008 3:44 PM

@Frank Ch. Eigler

“That such attacks have occurred somewhere in the world is a fact.”

Aha! So because there have been shark attacks on a beach in Australia at some time, we need anti-shark measures installed at all public swimming pools in the mighty homeland? Even if there is “no specific, credible intelligence indicating that sharks intend to utilize transdimensional space-time warp tunnels from the Australian ocean to fresh-water pools in the homeland”?

TS February 13, 2008 3:59 PM

Of course DHS thinks we’re idiots… but that’s besides the point, the notice wasn’t sent to us civilians.

So the better question is, does DHS think all other law enforcement agencies are staffed with idiots?

Leo February 13, 2008 4:10 PM


Trying to teach a pig to sing, are we?

Some people just aren’t capable of rational thought, no matter how much effort you put into it, although I must concede the game is fun.

The terr’rists are out to get us and they’re gonna do it unless we panic and do it for them first! This is an article of faith for some people.

thevisitor February 13, 2008 4:23 PM

now they have an excuse to strip-search women at will. And if they want more, they will find a reason to detain them

Lester February 13, 2008 4:26 PM

Frank Ch. Eigler

“What DHS claim do you consider false?”

Is the self-contradiction not self-evident? A contradiction means that at least one of the facts must be false. The false statement is in the first paragraph, btw, but since the falsehood is contained in the implicit information I’m sure you can’t see it. Hiding false information in implicit information is a common tactic of propagandists, in case you didn’t know.

Anonymous February 13, 2008 4:40 PM

You seem to be blisffulyy ignorant of the qualifications of many contributors to the comments section of this blog.

@ everyone else
Sounds like DHS has hired Tom Clancy for a month or else om has volunteered so he can get the scoop for his next novel…

Jim February 13, 2008 4:45 PM

Page Godwin if you like, but I still get a strong 1930’s Germany vibe any time I hear the word “Homeland” used to describe the U.S.

CipherChaos February 13, 2008 5:26 PM

I think in this case, we’ve found a loophole in Godwin’s Law.

It’s pretty obvious that when discussing a country headed toward totalitarianism, that references to a totalitarian society aren’t unwarranted. 😉

technicality February 13, 2008 6:23 PM

This thread is nuts. DHS stated nothing but facts. They explicitly state that the homeland is NOT at risk.

If DHS and other LE agencies misread this report as badly as most of you have, then I agree that we’re all in trouble.

technicality February 13, 2008 6:30 PM

By the way, I get the feeling that most of you on this thread have an “us vs. them” attitude about our government agencies. Perhaps you should consider becoming a civil servant and changing the way they think… Just a thought.

All it takes is a little change here and a little change there — that’s the argument about civil liberty erosion isn’t it? What if our federal agencies were infused with “proper” thinking a little here and a little there?

Alan February 13, 2008 6:42 PM


The reason many of us have an “us v.s. them mentality” is that many of us have had to deal with these people a bit too much.

Many of the people who post to this blog are security professionals. Most security professionals I know have absolute contempt for the TSA. (Kind of like why most chefs have contempt for Rachael Ray.)

John February 13, 2008 7:03 PM

I guess in the war on the unexpected, TSA now will treat pregnant fliers with redoubled harshness?

You never know, that pregnant lady might be a suicide bomber.

Leo February 13, 2008 7:05 PM


“They explicitly state that the homeland is NOT at risk.”

If the “homeland” is not at risk then what was the purpose of the Department of Homeland Security and FBI making such a statement? Maybe they don’t have enough work to do so they make such assessments for no reason?

Matthew February 13, 2008 7:12 PM

Here’s a thought. What if the bad guys just start swallowing the explosives? Does that mean an end to all air travel?

Jeff February 13, 2008 7:56 PM

xd0s: Actually, based on similar data we could conclude that terrorists increasingly favor using airplanes to thwart security and draw attention to their causes. That has also happened and also has only a single point of data.

HOHOHO February 13, 2008 8:24 PM

@ HAHAHA”I love all the security “experts” here. Just like armchair quarterbacks, they are a dime a dozen”

Are you sure everyone here is an armchair quarterback …. you obviously are … making statements like that without fact.

Frank Ch. Eigler February 13, 2008 8:29 PM


They explicitly state that the homeland is NOT at risk.

No, they don’t explicitly say that. They say instead that there is no current evidence that the bad guys are intending to try this stunt here. There is an explosive difference between the two.

Lester, Bruce, etc.:

With just a little bit of effort, you can read the actual DHS/FBI warning message, not just the CNN dumbed-down version. It is in fact a fairly calm and reasonable-looking four-page writeup. Its apparent intent is to weaken the stereotype that middle-eastern young men are behind all the mischief, to make people aware that the baddies are using baddesses too. That’s it. The rest (no flying third trimester? amniotic fluids?) is all just crap from your imagination.

If anything, Bruce should be proud that they realize that just because one threat pattern dominates, an opponent can come up with new ones that rely on our stereotypes (women’s fragile innocence or something).

Anonymous February 13, 2008 9:01 PM

@Frank Ch. Eigler

“There is an explosive difference between the two.”

There is no operative difference.


DHS might as well start lining up Gila Monsters, bushmasters, diamonback rattle snakes, and the rest of them, writing a memo of the form:

“Since {venomous animal} exist the people in New York City or Boise, Idaho need to be extra vigilant … even though there is no evidence of any {venomous animal} on the loose in either of those locales.”

Neighborcat February 13, 2008 9:15 PM

Well Bruce, I’d have to say the evidence of the last 8 years weighs heavily on the “We ARE idiots” side of the equation.

“We”, the collective citizens of The United States, allowed the Supreme Court to decide a presidential election, and then 4 years later, re-elected this administration, and have sat in ignorance and apathy as the founding principles of this country have been twisted, broken, and ultimately thrown away.

Our government is not doing this to “us”. Our current government is a symptom, not a cause. It is within the nature of every human to manipulate a given situation to their own advantage, that’s why a system of “checks and balances” is vital. Such a system requires maintenance, the vigilance of the citizens.

“We”, as in “We the people” have given away any claim to the title of “Home of the Brave” etc… We are now the “Land of the Fearful, and the Home of the Broke.”

I’m not a Cassandra, I’m just tired of people blaming a run-away government for doing what governments do when the citizens aren’t paying attention.

PROPaGANDA February 13, 2008 10:39 PM

Nice propaganda move; it clears the US and contractors of assertions of murder in careless or ‘accidental’ bombings/shootings of innocent women and children. “They were bombs!” Next, it’ll be 90 year olds. Saves some money as well. I hear the payment for death is about $2K or less a human for ‘accidental’ killing.
When does this end?

moo February 13, 2008 11:40 PM

What is this “homeland” you all keep referring to?

Every time I hear that word (which I never, ever heard in reference to the United States of America before 9/11, by the way) I can’t help being reminded of “the Fatherland” (Nazi Germany) and “the Motherland” (Communist Russia). What is “the Homeland”, the neo-corporate USSA ?

averros February 14, 2008 2:54 AM

@ “Does the DHS think we’re idiots or something?”

Judging by the people Amerikans favor for the elevated posts of the President, Senators and Representatives, DHS folks are quite justified in this contention.

Frank Ch. Eigler February 14, 2008 6:00 AM

“There is an explosive difference between the two.” [not being at risk -vs- no information of impending attack]

There is no operative difference.

Let me try one more time to get through your political blinder, by translating the scenario to “security technology” in computer land.

“No risk” == “there is no known vulnerability in your software”
“No information of current impending attack” == “a vulnerability exists, and was exploited in a few other sites, but there is no sign you have been targeted”

The response to the two scenarios is drastically different.

Just a Soldier February 14, 2008 6:49 AM

@ anyone who thinks TSA is on ball with security.

This is a litte off subject but I think relevent.
Is there a ‘report’ that military traveling in uniform having to be searched down to the socks??? I was traveling with 27 other soldiers and we missed our flight because of 7 hours in a TSA security screening. And this was a flight withun the US.

Anonymous February 14, 2008 7:34 AM

@Frank Ch. Eigler

“a vulnerability exists, and was exploited in a few other sites, but there is no sign you have been targeted”

No, Eigler, that is not the correct translation. Here is your scenario written as a DHS memo:

“The Department of Homeland Security has received credible reports of man-eating alligators in downtown Pittsburgh. Pictures. Videos. Unconsumed human body parts. Conduct yourselves accordingly.”

Note how this is different from the memo at issue here:

“The Department of Homeland Security was reading Wikipedia yesterday and noticed that leishmaniasis is a sinister parasitic disease that can kill people, and leave many others disfigured for life. Citizens in the glorious homeland are hereby advised of this threat, even though not one single case of leishmaniasis in CONUS has been observed in recorded history.”

(Note for those who still don’t get it: I have no idea if in fact leishmaniasis is unobserved in the USA; but if it is, and you still need to have things spelled out for you, feel free to insert some rare tropical disease that is found only on a remote island in the southern Indian ocean. Or whatever.)

Basically, if we take your nonsense threat warnings seriously, DHS must begin preparing memo after useless memo warning people in Alaska of the dangers of brown recluse spiders or marauding howler monkeys or the possibility of shark attacks while swimming in the Kenai River.

Now if you believe this is a valid use of money, why can’t YOU pay for this bullshit “service”? Heck, I’ll make it easy for you: I can send you or anyone else interested a customized, personally addressed memos on these subjects. The fee is only $1k/person/month, and subscribers will receive 10 email security notices per working day — that’s over 2000 scare notices a year, maybe 1990 more than the entire DHS!

Can you feel the adrenalin rush already?

ice weasel February 14, 2008 10:53 AM

What DHS actually thinks isn’t the issue. If they act as they have acted in the past and continue to treat the general populace as idiots then they, DHS, are not required to come up with better explanations for the ridiculous things they do.

It’s really that simple.

xd0s February 14, 2008 10:54 AM

@anonymous (2/14 2:35a)

Thanks for the link and the data. I’ll take a look.

Trying my best to give them a chance to be accurate, I suppose that if it was 1 in 02, 1 in 05, 1 in 06, 2 in 07, and 2 (as I’m sure they count the Iraq case) in 08 so far this would look like a trend enough to send a memo out like the one that was sent (upward trend, no immediate threat to the US).

Still it makes you wonder about motivation, since informing law enforcement in the US of threats that don’t exist in the US seems a lot like crying wolf.

@ jeff
Agreed to an extent, though it might be more accurate to include using the plane as a weapon, vs a means. Hijackings themselves have become common enough to have airline procedures created around how to respond to them. Until 9/11 no one had a process for retaking a plane because no one had ever seen a need.

jammit February 14, 2008 3:39 PM

It ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings. Or goes BOOM.
Instead of looking for “strap on” explosives, why not look for people (terry-wrists) who’ve had surgery to actually implant explosive devices. It could be a quick and dirty job seeing that the patient won’t live long anyway. Plenty of room in the skull.
It seems to me that after everybody started ignoring the Warning Color Alert System ™ the tactic has been changed to plain old fashioned fear mongering.

foo February 14, 2008 4:07 PM

i’m so scared of pregnant women that i’ll fork over all my liberties to the new division of homeland scare tactics and control.

PooPoo February 14, 2008 4:48 PM

Hey, guess what DHS, TSA, and all you other federal agences….


Stop with your planned little news stories and suspicious warnings. We aren’t afraid of the terrorists or your veiled stories. If you think you can scare people into giving away their rights and life, you are wrong. The nation is beginning to laugh at your feeble attempts to keep yelling “boo” like we are some naive two-year olds that will believe anything you say. Keep crying wolf and no one will listen.

Unless it’s real, validated, and serious, keep it to yourselves.

jack c lipton February 14, 2008 5:03 PM

Y’know, in the “war on the unusual” where someone is trying to define a narrow definition of “normal” and force conformity to said definition.

Sounds like we’re converting so we fit into a religious mindset, eh?

Wolfger February 15, 2008 6:38 AM

If they start targeting pregnant women for more stringent security checks, what will happen the first time they mistakenly target a woman who’s just fat? Why isn’t DHS concerned about male bombers hiding bombs under/inside a fat suit? It’s the new war on obesity… if you aren’t skinny, you might be a terrorist. Except, I think most terrorists, historically speaking, have been skinny. So where does that leave us?

Marty February 15, 2008 8:23 AM

Does the the DHS think we’re idiots or something?

They will if they read this so-called blog and so-called comments from self-proclaimed geniuses.

Jeff February 15, 2008 8:29 AM

Terrorists pray on people’s fear of appearing prejudice. If they strart scrutinizing women who appear pregnant, they will be called sexist (just like someone who reports suspicious activity from a Muslim is called an Islamaphonbe).

If they don’t do something, there is a security hole. If they do something, they’ll be blamed if something happens. And true to form, several monday morning quarterbacks will chime in the next day to argue that they would have a) saved the day by exploring an obvious potential threat, or b) saved they day by not violating someone’s liberties.

Notice the pattern? If something happens, complain they didn’t stop it. If nothing happens, complain that there was nothing to stop.

Anonymous February 15, 2008 5:24 PM

This blog was informative when I started coming here several years ago. Today, it is a useless collection of diatribes against the current U.S. administration and agencies forced upon the current administration by the opposition party in Congress – i.e. DHS and TSA.

If the administration switches parties next January, I may come back to see what you guys think of them.

RonK February 17, 2008 1:04 AM

@ Jeff

Notice the pattern? If something happens, complain they didn’t stop it.
If nothing happens, complain that there was nothing to stop.

Do you actually read this blog? You’ve missed really important points of view which you find a lot, here, which is:

Complain about doing X in an ineffective effort to minimize certain risks, where X can be any combination of:

1) Directly spending a lot of money
2) Indirectly costing the economy a lot of money
3) Increasing other risks (e.g., the government becoming totalitarian, or terrorists attacking alternative targets which are less well-defended).

The refreshing thing about this blog is that it doesn’t just contain the simplistic binary points of view you talk about. The interesting posters here understand that zero risk, even if it were attainable, is never the optimal value in real-life situations.

Anonymous February 17, 2008 2:45 PM

F.S.B, not a bad warning, just trends and threats, just like in computer world of Bugtraq. I see it like pollen/mold reporting.
The warning is about education and threats/trends. I think BS, you are getting a bit carried away in your frustrations with our goverment, and it is affecting your Blog. Ok, all human, but just a note.
Perhaps if the DHS had a better way of organizing and reporting, perhaps like Secunia, etc, perhaps you might be praising them?
Keep up the good work, security today is very frusterating, with how politcal things are today.

Mark February 18, 2008 3:07 AM


Aha! So because there have been shark attacks on a beach in Australia at some time, we need anti-shark measures installed at all public swimming pools in the mighty homeland? Even if there is “no specific, credible intelligence indicating that sharks intend to utilize transdimensional space-time warp tunnels from the Australian ocean to fresh-water pools in the homeland”?

Given then mentality of the people involved they’d probably waste lots of taxpayers dollars on anti shark precautions for US swimming pools. Then point out the lack of shark attacks as proof that the money was well spent.

Kanzi February 19, 2008 7:08 AM

Frank Ch. Eigler is right. The DHS memo is serving as a perfectly reasonable reminder of what people should be looking out for. That is, they should not be focussing purely on those things that have been associated with the threat in the past.

This is exactly what Bruce has been saying too.

The reaction here seems to be knee-jerk anti-DHS anti-TSA, regardless of what they are actually saying.

Look, they do enough things that actually are silly. Go after them for that. Not the sensible stuff.

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