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Airport screeners scrutinizing remote-controlled toys

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  • TSA: Remote-controlled toys could be used to trigger explosive devices
  • Travelers encouraged to place them in checked luggage
  • Additional screening not prompted by any specific intelligence, agency says
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From Mike M. Ahlers
CNN
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Airport screeners are giving additional scrutiny to remote-controlled toys because terrorists could use them to trigger explosive devices, the Transportation Security Administration said Monday.

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The TSA suggests travelers place remote-controlled toys in checked luggage.

The TSA stopped short of banning the toys in carry-on bags but suggested travelers place them in checked luggage.

"Travelers may encounter additional screening when bringing remote control devices in carry-on baggage," the TSA said. In addition, anyone carrying such toys, including children, may have to go through secondary screening.

The change was not prompted by any specific intelligence, the TSA said. Instead, it was made in response to July's National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded the United States will face "a persistent and evolving terrorist threat" in the coming years, and also by generalized threats that noted the use of remote-control toys as detonators.

Authorities allege one of two students arrested in South Carolina in August posted a video on YouTube demonstrating how to use a remote-controlled toy to trigger a bomb.

The arrested men -- Ahmed Mohamed, 26, and Youssef Megahed, 21 -- are Egyptian nationals.

Mohamed allegedly told authorities he made the videotape about remote bomb detonation to help people in Arab countries fight infidels.

In a statement on the TSA's Web site, Administrator Kip Hawley said, "We work very closely with law enforcement and intelligence communities about possible methods of attack and it appears that terrorists may have an interest to use these remote-control toys as a means to initiate these devices in a terrorist attack."

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Hawley added, "We want to let passengers know that if they see some different security screening related to remote control devices, they know why we're doing it."

A TSA spokesman said the agency is publicizing the heightened scrutiny because it wants to be transparent with the public and let terrorists know "we're on to them." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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