- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 6, 2003

The FBI is warning security personnel about dozens of everyday items — from belt buckles to keys to a deadly deck of cards — that can conceal knives or other weapons terrorists could use to hijack an airliner.

Many items cost less than $20 and can be difficult to detect using airport-screening devices, according to an FBI statement accompanying the 89-page catalog obtained yesterday.

The catalog has been converted into a CD and circulated to airport screeners and law-enforcement officials around the country amid heightened vigilance aimed at preventing another suicide hijacking by al Qaeda.

“It was designed to raise security awareness for law enforcement and airline security,” FBI spokesman Paul Bresson said.

U.S. law-enforcement officials have warned that al Qaeda might use improvised or easily obtained substances to mount attacks, especially chemicals that are dangerous when mixed. What makes the FBI weapons list unusual is that most of the concealable knives, pepper spray devices and other items are inexpensive and can be purchased from manufacturers in the United States, Taiwan, Japan, Italy, Sweden, China and elsewhere.

Knives are concealed in belt buckles, hairbrushes and combs, working cigarette lighters, crucifixes, lipstick cases, canes, umbrellas, key chains, pens, mock credit cards and money clips. While many of the blades are small, others are at least 4 inches long and some are sword-length.

Among the more exotic items is a deck of fake playing cards made of metal, with sharp edges, that can be thrown with deadly results. One fake key made in Japan conceals a knife and a smaller key that could be used to escape from handcuffs.

One device, called a “shuckra,” is a metal tube containing a wire that, when locked into place, becomes a hardened spike that could be used as a dagger.

There are false name-brand soup, hair spray, shaving cream and cleanser cans with hidden compartments — the FBI calls them “can safes” — where weapons or dangerous substances could be placed. Fake books with hollowed centers are used as safes.

Each item in the catalog is shown with a ruler to give security personnel a sense of scale and an X-ray image of how it might appear when viewed in an airport-screening device.

The FBI’s collection was bought through catalogs, at knife shows and through other commercial outlets. Officials said none of the items was confiscated from passengers.

FBI officials say a worker at the FBI lab in Quantico, Va., began the catalog shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks so that security personnel would be aware of the vast array of dangerous items that can be legally purchased and might be difficult to detect.

The 19 men who hijacked four jetliners used common box cutters as weapons. The FBI catalog is circulating at a time of increased security at airports based on intelligence collected from captured al Qaeda operatives and safe houses about plans for another attack using the nation’s air-travel system.

The Transportation Security Administration forbids air travelers from carrying sharp objects into an aircraft cabin. The agency bans such items as box cutters, metal scissors with pointed tips, meat cleavers, swords and ice picks.

But the FBI catalog notes many other razor knives and penknives that are used in construction could be just as deadly. Even plastic knives are included.

“Each of these tools was designed to cut and is fully functional in that respect,” the FBI statement says. “Whether used to cut paper, cardboard or other material, these knives should be treated as potentially dangerous weapons.”

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