The bombings that apparently brought down two Russian jets last week could happen in this country because few passengers and their carry-on bags are checked for explosives, security consultants tell USA Today. Russian investigators said over the weekend that they found residue of explosives in the wreckage of two airliners that went down Tuesday in nearly simultaneous crashes. Russian officials are focusing the investigation on a female passenger on each flight whose families did not claim their bodies. The women are apparently from Chechnya, the war-torn region whose rebels have repeatedly launched terrorist attacks against Russia.
The crashes, in which 90 people were killed, not only indicate that terrorists may have breached security at one of Russia’s most secure airports. They also point to a gap in security at U.S. airports that Congress and the Sept. 11 Commission have said must be closed. Bags checked by passengers in U.S. airports are screened for explosives, says the Transportation Security Administration. But the vast majority of carry-on bags are only X-rayed, which is not a reliable way to detect bombs. And while passengers pass through metal detectors, almost none are screened for explosives.