Had the 23-year-old Nigerian suspect in Friday’s terrorist attempt on Flight 253 walked through what’s known as a backscatter machine, security screeners would have gotten an eyeful of his virtually nude body — as well as the explosive ingredient he allegedly had strapped to his body, airline security expert Douglas Laird told the Detroit Free Press. Laird, former security director for Northwest Airlines, said the machines, which cost about $200,000, are a less-invasive — and less risky — alternative to devices so powerful they would show passengers’ bones.
“With backscatter, when you scan, you’d see a silhouette of the body,” said Laird, president of Nevada-based Laird & Associates. “You could see whatever was on the outside of the body, on the surface of the body or anything sewn into the lining of your coat. It would show up as kind of a gray mass.” He shrugs off privacy complaints. “I believe we have to give up some rights for the safety of everybody,” he said. “It’s a real nerve that you touch when you mention that.”