Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/10/vibro_shoe_bust/
Airport plods seize man with electric vibro-pleasure shoes
'Will be let go if innocent [?]', insist Karachi heat
Bumbling Pakistani security operatives have detained a man at Karachi airport for attempting to board a plane with a pair of electrical vibro-massage shoes.
Multiple reports indicate that the passenger, Faiz Mohammad, 30, was about to board a Thai Airways flight to Oman when he was seized following a check of his effects. X-ray operators had been alarmed to note batteries and circuitry built into the soles of his shoes.
However it appears that the offending gadgetry was not the firing circuit of a shoe bomb but a massage device: the shoes were reportedly the rechargeable "Good Vibrations" model, intended to deliver tingly foot fun to the wearer as he or she walks about.
"We have seen such shoes for the first time [today]" police investigator Niaz Khoso told Reuters.
"To be honest, we did not know that such shoes are available ... We have not released him yet but if he is found innocent, we will let him go for sure," added the bemused copper.
There is of course no rule against carrying batteries and circuitry onto aeroplanes, and most passengers do so routinely in the form of cameras, phones, laptops etc. The idea of airport security X-rays is to detect explosives and (usually a bit more feasibly) detonators. There is no suggestion that Mohammad was carrying any such materials.
According to the AP, another police official justified Mohammad's detention by saying that "similar materials can be used in the construction of bombs", but this is true of all electronics. A security operative who would stop you for having vibro shoes should, logically, stop anyone carrying anything containing a battery.
Pakistani security personnel may be particularly jumpy at present following the US government's assertion that recent would-be Times Square car "bomber" Faisal Shahzad was acting at the behest of an organisation based in Pakistan. Shahzad had no detonator or other viable high-explosive device either. ®
Lewis Page is a former British forces Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) operator and has spent a lot of time X-raying explosives and related items.