TSA Chief: Chechen Women With Explosive Bras Inspired U.S. Airport Pat Downs

April 19, 2013 - 11:43 AM

TSA, pat down

Man gets TSA pat down at Denver International Airport on Nov. 17, 2010. (AP Photo/Craig Walker)

(CNSNews.com) - Transportation Security Administration Administrator John Pistole said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast in 2010 that his agency’s policy of doing intrusive pat downs of U.S. air passengers was inspired by two Chechen women who were able to blow up two Russian airliners because "they had explosives in their bras and around their waists."

In fact, a November 2005 report by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security specifically stipulated that TSA’s pat down policy had been initiated in response to the in-air bombing of two Russian airliners by Chechen women who smuggled explosives in their clothing.

“In September 2004, the TSA made changes to strengthen its screening procedures in response to the August 2004 midair explosions of two Russian airliners, believed to have been caused by Chechen women transporting explosive devices concealed under their clothing,” said the inspector general’s report.

“New passenger screening procedures included more frequent use of pat-down inspections, more latitude for screeners to refer individuals for additional screening, and increased use of explosives trace detection machines for passenger carry-on bag inspections,” said the inspector general.

TSA, pat down

Women gets a TSA pat down at Denver International Airport. (AP Photo/Craig Walker)

On Aug. 24, 2004, Amanat Nagayeva and Satsita Dzbirkhanova boarded separate flights at Domodedovo Airport outside Moscow," the New York Times reported at the time. Both flights exploded in the air, killing all 90 people who were on board the two planes. It was the beginning of an horrendous Chechen terror spree in Russia.

A week later, another Chechen women committed a suicide bombing at a Moscow subway station. That bomb, as reported by the New York Times, included not ball bearing and nails (like the bombs that exploded at the Boston Marathon this week), but was  "packed with bolts or other bits of metal."

Just days after the 2004 Moscow subway bombing, a group of Chechen terrorists held approximately 1,200 people hostage—most of them children—at a school in Beslan in southern Russia. That crisis ended when a bomb exploded in the school and Russian troops laid siege to the facility. Most of the 338 victims of that terrorist attack were students.

About three weeks later, in September 2004, as reported by the Washington Post, Shamil Basayev, the Islamist terrorist who had previously served as prime minister of Chechnya, took credit for the airplane bombings, the subway bombing and the Beslan school massacre.

That same month, as the inspector general reported, TSA instituted a more aggressive pat down policy at airports. Then, in the face of widespread public complaints about those pat downs, TSA modified its policy in December 2004.

“In December 2004, TSA modified the September 2004 additional screening procedures to reflect a more targeted, less intrusive pat-down inspection,” said the inspector general's report. “Following implementation of the modified procedures, pat-down complaints received by TSA declined significantly.”

In November 2010, however, the Obama administration instituted its own aggressive patdown policy. “If a full-body scanning machine shows something strange or a passenger declines to go through the machine--which is now in use in the Washington region's three major airports--an officer will perform a more personal search,” the Washington Post reported at that time. “The examinations routinely involve the touching of breasts and genitals, invasive searches designed to find weapons and suspicious items.”

At the same time, some news organizations ran videos showing intrusive pat downs. The Washington Times, for example, described an interview TSA Administrator Pistole had with CNN that month in which the network “showed him video of a woman whose breasts were being felt and a man with his hand in another man's pants.”

At a Nov. 22, 2010 Christian Science Monitor breakfast a reporter asked Pistole about video footage of intrusive pat downs. Pistole pointed back to the 2004 Chechen suicide bombings of Russian planes--which he mistakenly said occured in 2006.

“Well, I think it shows something that people have not seen before,” said Pistole. “But I think back to two Russian airliners, I believe it was in the fall of ‘06, that were taken down--the best intelligence is by two female suicide bombers about 90 minutes apart, where they had explosives in their bras and around their waists.

"Now the question is: What was the screening on that? Was there some others issues?" said Pistole. "But I think there were 134 people were killed between those two terrorist attacks, and the belief was they were Chechens, black widows as they referred to them, who brought those airliners down. So, that is the challenged that we deal with.”