Vid Application developer and part-time security researcher Evan Booth has produced a series of videos showing how an array of apparently deadly weapons can be MacGyver'd from stuff on sale in airport shops.
His inventions can be built from things bought after walking through the usual security checks; we're told they include a remote-controlled suitcase bomb made using a child's toy, a Zippo lighter and cans of Axe body spray; a potentially lethal set of nunchucks; a club capable of smashing apart a coconut; and a fragmentation grenade that he assembled in less than eight minutes.
"If we're trying stop a terrorist threat at the airport it's already too late," Booth told Fast Company, saying he started the Terminal Cornucopia project after the introduction of nudie body scanners at US airports.
"It just seemed so invasive and really expensive. And if you're going to go through all that trouble getting into the terminal, why is all this stuff available in the terminal?"
One of his most worrying creations is a blunderbuss-like, breech-loaded shotgun-ish weapon capable of firing $1.33 in coins through fiberboard. The device is just as dangerous to the user as to what's in front of the muzzle, but when did that thinking stop a jihadi? Take a look below.
Subtle, no? Booth's videos show that you can at least get a big bang from materials found in airport shops. Lithium from batteries, for example, when mixed with water, can act as an explosive when coupled with an aerosol can, while consumer electronics goods can be adapted in a variety of lethal ways.
All the weapons were assembled using a Leatherman PS Style multi-tool that had been specifically designed by the company to be allowed past TSA checkpoints without breaking any rules. Most of the weapons are cobbled together using Scotch tape and dental floss, but hold together well enough in testing, it seems.
"I think people have kind of been suspecting that the type of things I've built are possible," says Booth, "I just don't think anyone's ever taken the time to do it."
Booth said that he informed both the TSA and the FBI about the devices, sending them all the details of the build process along with the chemicals and tools used. He said he hadn't heard back from the TSA, but that the FBI did make an unscheduled visit to his home in North Carolina and conducted an interview.
Thankfully for Booth, the agents didn't arrest him. Instead, the Fibbies just wanted to check that he hadn't actually assembled the weapons in an actual airport. Booth showed them the garage where he tests his designs, and they left satisfied that no laws had been broken.
Before everyone panics, these aren't blueprints for immediate attack. The sort-of shotgun takes long seconds to ignite and looks about as accurate as a darts player after the seventh pint.
It's also telling that the only timed video is on how to build the grenade and not the other devices that require more structural reinforcement that could take hours. And try smelting a pewter bolt using a can of burning Axe body spray in an airport (or worse, an airline) toilet and see how far you get.
But some smarter thinking on airport security would be very nice. As Bruce Schneier and others have pointed out, current airport security practices have more to do with theater than with keeping people safe. ®