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Self-Defense Tip #48 — Are you planning to fly?

Planning to fly? Keep in mind this news item:

On Saturday, January 2nd, police has placed real bomb components into check-in bags of nine different passengers at two airports in Slovakia.

One of those passengers, Stefan Gonda, who flew to Dublin, didn’t find out about the RDX plastic explosive hidden in his bag until Monday night (January 4th), when Slovak police called him in Ireland and told him where to find it.

Slovak police also called Ireland’s police. The next morning Ireland’s police arrested Gonda. Ireland’s police said it received only a vague tip from their Slovak counterparts saying Gonda was suspected of possessing explosives. [That’s what they say. Really, if the tip was “vague” what kept them from clarifying it with the Slovak police until all was clear and not vague?–TK] So the Irish police pounced Tuesday morning. (Very much like someone who doses off on the job and when woken up acts extra alive.) They closed a busy Dublin intersection at rush hour, evacuated several apartment buildings, send in the Irish army’s bomb squad and arrested Gonda.

They released Mr. Gonda without charge three hours later [How nice of them not to charge him. Lucky him.–TK].

End of the news. Now consider this:

At room temperature RDX is very stable, but below −4 degrees Celsius it is very sensitive–it can go off. So, if the temperature in the luggage hold dropped below those 4 degrees, the RDX in Mr. Gonda’s luggage could go off. Are luggage holds in all planes heated? What about luggage cars standing on the tarmac, now in the middle of the winter?

The explosives were placed in the luggage of passengers to train bomb-sniffing dogs. The smell lingers. If explosives (or drugs) would be planted by police in your luggage and then taken out, your luggage, your stuff, your clothes, would still smell of them. Remember that arriving passengers and their luggage are checked by police officers with bomb- and whatever-sniffing dogs (but apparently not very well in Dublin). Now imagine what you would have to go through.

If you think that this happens only in Slovakia, think again. Six years ago, in an exercise to train bomb-sniffing dogs, French security had hidden a bag containing 5 ounces (about 140 grams) of plastic explosives in an unwitting passenger’s luggage. The bag with explosives was never seen again. When the news about the Slovak police screw-up came out, security officials from various countries expressed disbelief at such carelessness, and said that their services wouldn’t do such a thing.

Right…. I will buy myself security tapes:

That will have to do until I get some better technology to discourage (hopefully) and reveal police tampering with my stuff.

Self-defense tip from Thomas Kurz, co-author of Basic Instincts of Self-Defense and author of Science of Sports Training, Stretching Scientifically, and Flexibility Express.

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