Slovakian Law Enforcement Secretly Planted Explosives On Travelers

from the security-through-stupidity? dept

While we're on the subject of airport security, here's a bizarre story. Apparently, law enforcement officials in Slovakia chose to plant explosives on eight travelers without their knowledge, to see how good airport security was in catching them. Turns out security only scored 87.5%, as it caught seven of the eight travelers, but the last one made it through, and then traveled back to Ireland unwittingly with the explosives. On Tuesday Slovakian officials told Irish officials who sent a group of bomb removal experts to the guy's place, where he was arrested, questioned and released. We've seen "security through obscurity," but I'm not quite sure what to call this. Security through stupidity?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    jake, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 2:47am


    yes, this makes me proud to be slovak! fan-tastic...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    jdragon, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 3:12am

    I'd sue the slovak if I was that guy...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 3:12am

    “Security” = Complete Waste Of Time

    This is why all the fuss over more stringent examinations of passengers is a complete waste of time. Even if their detection rate was 99.9999%, it only takes one to get through, to render the whole exercise futile. And as this case shows, if they have trouble finding the stuff when they’ve planted it themselves, how much luck will they have against a genuine adversary?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    cc, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 3:58am


    I second that. If they wanted decoys to test their security, they should have brought in their wives.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Lisae Boucher (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 4:09am

    Not uncommon...

    This is not a one-time incident. This trick has been used often enough in the past to check security. Not only by the Slovaks but almost everywhere. Not just with explosives but also drugs. It helps to train the sniffer dogs because this way, they will occasionally pick up something.

    What went wrong is that they did not remove the bomb in time. Normally, such security tests are well-monitored so the passenger won't get into trouble. But occasionally, something slips through. Just like in this case... Indeed, really stupid. But it's common practice in many locations in this world.

    (In the Netherlands, something similar once happened with a packet of drugs that was used to train the sniffer dogs. The packet was misplaced and traveled along with the passenger, who was arrested afterwards.) Not sure when and where this happened, exactly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    :), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 4:36am


    Using people as unwillingly guinea pigs is just wrong.
    The guy was arrested and questioned and he had no idea why.

    Imagine if the guy did go to China or Iran he would have been sentenced to death.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Lonzo5, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 4:40am

    Re: WTF!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 5:13am

    From this article:

    I'd like to know why the Irish police arrested the man after the Slovak security services informed them that they had planted the explosives on him. They must have known he was innocent as they arrested him?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    pixelpusher220 (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 5:41am


    This is my question too. How the hell do you go from "Um, I'm sorry, we planted real explosives in this guy's luggage without him knowing" to "he's a terrorist with a bomb, arrest him".

    Somewhere in the chain is a massive misunderstanding that borders on criminal negligence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Avatar28 (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 6:03am

    Re: WTF!

    Worse, if he had been going to the US, he would have been sent to Gitmo or somewhere similar and tortured with no representation and no one having any idea where the heck he is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    DCX2, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 6:26am

    Psychology studies require consent

    You should see the crazy stuff psychologists have to go through to do studies, much of which requires the consent of the people being studied. Viewing this incident from that frame of mind, I'm startled at how completely unethical this practice is. Milgram, eat your heart out?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 6:29am

    Re: Psychology studies require consent

    +1 for the Milgram shout-out!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Ben Robinson, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 6:33am

    How is this even a worthwhile test

    Surely anyone trying to smuggle a bomb onto a plain knows that is what they are doing. A large part of security screening has got to be to watch for signs of suspicious/guilty behaviour. If someone is completely unaware they are carrying a bomb then they stand a much better chance of getting past security as they don't show any signs of suspician.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Liquid (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 6:45am

    Re: Not uncommon...

    Well not only is it done all the time, and even more so since 9/11 but here in the states law enforcement does the tests them selves. They don't just load civilians up with C4, or Heroin with out their knowledge. Granted I can see doing so that way the person doesn't accidentally act suspicious, or look very nervous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re:

    My guess is do you really want to trust what a foreign government tells you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    WammerJammer (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 7:11am

    Slovakian Law Enforcement Secretly Planted Explosives On Travelers

    Of course they didn't notify the plane or the airline. Major Lawsuit in world court. If you trust your insurance company more than you trust your government, you get what you pay for and that's all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    NullOp, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 7:20am


    Even in pre 9/11 days Navy SEALS regularly challenged airport security measures by concealing weapons. More often than not they were successful. A blind test is a good test of readiness. Catching terrorists is a lot like catching those that create viruses. They always have the upper hand as they create the virus based on known methods of detection. Antivirus programs are reactive as are security measures. Of course security officials try to be proactive but in the end it's a battle of wits and consistency. If security relaxes then a "hole" is open and can be exploited.

    And so it goes...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 7:21am

    Re: â??Securityâ?? = Complete Waste Of Time

    I agree. A complete waste of time. Better to just remove the checkpoints and just let anyone carry whatever they want onto the plane.

    I would much rather have a system that stops 99.9% of the bombs than one that doesnt stop any. There is no perfect system. Seat belts dont guarantee that you wont die in a car crash, but you still wear one (or at least I do). Gun laws dont stop all violence, but they do prevent rampant violence. Antivirus doesnt stop all viruses in their tracks, but it still helps to keep your computer clean. Stop thinking in absolutes; it's counter-productive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Lachlan Hunt (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 7:28am

    if they want to test security with planted contraband, why the hell do they have to get legitimate passengers involved at all? Surely, they can afford to buy a few bags and stuff them with clothes or something to make them look normal and send those planted bags along with the planted contraband through the screening process.

    Also, why wasn't the package of explosives somehow clearly marked as being for testing purposes, so that the security personal in Ireland, or any other country it could happen in, would have seen that it was a security test, and called up Slovakian security to verify it. That would have at least saved the innocent victim a lot of trouble.

    But regardless, planting contraband on a legitimate passenger's bags for testing purposes is just stupidity beyond belief.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Etch, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 7:35am

    Holy shit!!!!
    and I mean ..... HOLY SHIT!!!

    If that were me and I had made it through to my home country (*hint* in the middle east) from Solvakia, and Solvakia decided to call law enforcement there to report me, I would have been detained, gagged, electrocuted, raped, tortured, beaten up, electrocuted again, left in a dark cell for months, beaten up some more, before even being questioned!

    This is an insane game they are playing with people's lives!

    And what happened to the 7 that were caught? How long did law enforcement officials wait before informing airport security that they were just playing a sick game on innocent passengers??

    Unbelievable! They usually send someone in undercover to try and bypass security, but planting bombs on people? That's a whole new level

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Totally Fed Up, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 8:04am

    We are missing the point. If the explosives were hidden in the passenger's underwear, they all - all- would have gotten through. But, you can't hide a bomb in a person's underwear without them knowing it.. Oh well, let's make do!

    My granddaughter's doll was sniffed for bombs. On another occasion my ballpoint pen was taken apart by the TSA. Enough. This is nonsense that is supposed to make us feel safer. It doesn't.

    And what about the no fly list. I have a friend with an ordinary, all American name like Smith or Jones. There must be thousands of people with the same all American name. Yet, she is on the no fly list and has yet to make an airline reservation without difficulty.

    Lastly, how about foolproof IDs. Allan Dershowitz pointed out in an OpEd that as long as you have a real drivers license, you are not giving up individual liberty with a driver's license that includes a retina scan and finger print. Let's have two lines one for people with real driver's licenses and one for people with phony licenses..


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. icon
    Alias (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 9:48am

    Couldn't believe it

    When I read the story last night about this, I was appalled at the irresponsible actions of this law enforcement agency. What if the bombs had gone off? Whoops?

    I keep asking myself this question when I hear about stuff like this but, "What is WRONG with these people?". How can you play with other people's lives like that, all in the name of security? That's just wrong.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    Andrew F (profile), Jan 6th, 2010 @ 10:40am

    Re: How is this even a worthwhile test

    Well, there is the scenario where the terrorist smuggles a timer-detonated bomb onto an unsuspecting person. Unsuspecting person carries bomb onto plane. 30 minutes later once plane is in the air, timer goes off -- boom.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Breetai, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 1:30pm

    So the guy who wasn't caught got arrested. Anyone else wonder what happened to the other 7 people? I wonder how many of them are still alive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Adrian, Jan 6th, 2010 @ 6:15pm

    This is the stupidest thing that can happen in security.

    What would have happened if the bomb was triggered by the 8th guy without his knowledge?

    There are better ways to test. This is ridiculous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Jan 7th, 2010 @ 5:44am

    Re: Couldn't believe it

    It was RDX apparently which is very stable and did not come with a detonator or ignition system (so not a full bomb, just explosives on their own).

    Not that this was not incredibly stupid - apart from anything else if the plane had a bad landing this might have been able to complicate things in theory.

    This is also not the first time this sort of thing has happened - I found this in the comments of a Register article on the same subject from 1995.

    "Dutch Authorities Plant Explosives on UF Professor" =5vwDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6652,66695

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    dorp, Jan 7th, 2010 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Earlier...

    You are an idiot for even thinking that somehow relates to this topic.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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