The new and improved bomb making plot is linked to a subset of a group in Syria that is working with an offshoot of a group from Yemen, and is supercharged by the presence of foreign jihadists on the ground in Syria. They have foreign passports, which gives them access to US and European airliners. You can draw the rest of the picture on your own.
There are as always debates happening over whether the administration's threat assessments are overblown. There are the usual arguments about security theater from the right and left, plus there are really insidery discussions that involve who is setting up what, and with which regional actors. Judging by the people who went on the record with ABC - both Democratic and Republican - the situation certainly sounds scary enough.
In any case none of that will matter to travelers if the Department of Homeland Security decides to up its screening procedures. Earlier this year an advisory went out to airlines to look out for explosive-packed toothpaste tubes, cosmetics, and shoes. ABC reported that officials are now in the final stages of working out new measures for airports.
No one's clear on what those procedures will look like, but they'll reportedly include more random screenings, more targeted screenings - and also something more.
[Photo: ABC News]