Glocks stolen out of Israeli PM's bodyguard's luggage on American Airlines flight

Four Glock 9mm pistols belonging to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's bodyguards are missing after American Airlines sent their suitcase to NY LA instead of DC. The luggage has been recovered, but the guns are missing and presumed stolen. Good thing the TSA doesn't let us lock them out of our suitcases, huh?
NBC News reported that the handguns had, in accordance with security procedures at New York's John F Kennedy airport, been placed inside checked luggage.

The luggage was then supposed to be put on a connecting flight to Washington however, American Airlines workers at the airport instead sent it right across the country to LAX in Los Angeles.

By the time the luggage was located and recovered, the guns had disappeared, and are presumed to have been stolen.

US airline 'loses Netanyahu bodyguard guns'

(Image: Glock 17 (9mm) Muzzle Flash, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from dad_and_clint's photostream)


  1. Oh, brilliant. I thought declaring a firearm in your checked baggage let you lock it yourself? I guess the starter pistol trick is a non-starter now.

  2. Heh. Maybe AIPAC will actually prove useful for once and get the TSA pinned to the wall over this.

  3. Purposely misrouting bags after stealing from them is a common practice. And stealing from checked bags has risen sharply since the new security measures were instituted. I had several DVDs stolen from a checked bag two years ago. I reported the theft and was basically told don’t hold your breath.

  4. So, when stealing guns is outlawed, only thieves will have stolen guns…or something?

    I know I feel much better now, with four more stolen guns on the streets of America.

    Couldn’t they be bothered to fly on an Israeli government plane or something? Even an El Al charter?

  5. You’d think the TSA would take extra precautions for VIP luggage. Especially since a theft would guarantee bad publicity.

    1. >> You’d think the TSA would take extra precautions for VIP luggage. Especially since a theft would guarantee bad publicity.

      They did. Oh, they did.

  6. Actually luggage with firearms is legally required to be locked with a non TSA lock to prevent this kind of thing, of course when you say every single bag that doesn’t have a gun in it needs to use this kind of lock and the bags that do have guns can use other locks makes the bags with guns pretty easy to spot and thus swipe stuff from.

    1. So the baggage handler opens your bag with the universal master key and then steals your stuff?

      I am flying to Chicago from Canada at the end of this month and want to bring back the legal limit 50 cigars in my carry-on bag. Should I assume that they’re going to be stolen from me by some dickhead TSA cop? Should I even bother trying to bring them home?

    2. It’s the TSA that’s stealing.

      What’s worse is those guns are now floating around, their current possessor not being the registered owner, so they can be used in crimes or homicides without indicating the guilty party.

      Stolen guns are a pretty major law enforcement problem. This sort of thing is a huge fuck-up.

    3. Why not just string a paper clip through the hasp? It would be about as effective.

      1. Many of the latest TSA-approved locks have an indicator that shows when the TSA uses their special key to inspect your luggage. The indicator can’t be reset unless you use your regular key or combination to open the lock again.

    4. Two problems.

      1) The TSA locks are easy to defeat, particularly by the TSA.

      2) Firearms are supposed to be secured by a big-boy lock.

      3) If they were shipping their weapons in a bag with a zipper, they should be held liable. Any nine year old can defeat a zipper with a pen, undetectably.

      Look at that! Three problems for the price of two!

  7. You are correct Caroline. Luggage with guns is required to be locked, and not with one of those TSA openable locks either. A real lock.

    We breathlessly await Cory’s retraction.

    1. “Luggage with guns is required to be locked, and not with one of those TSA openable locks either. A real lock.”

      Why the hell is that? Is it because TSA doesn’t trust it’s own people not to steal guns?



  8. A Prime Minister using regular airlines, I’d figure they’d have their own G6 or a service jet for the officials of the country especially this particular country?

  9. They fly commercial? With all the military aid there’s not a single aircraft to spare?

    1. They changed the aid/bribe deal for giving Egypt the Sinai to require aid dollars be spent mostly with US companies, like American Airlines, so it ends up like stimulus money every year and a way to influence Egyptian and Israeli politics. The Egyptians got the same aid deal and spending rules for accepting the Sinai and ending the 1948-1980 war.

      1. True enough, though the vast majority of that money has gone to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, not AA so I was surprised there was no Israeli Air Force One. However it seems that the PM’s office is perhaps now shopping around.

    2. They fly commercial? With all the military aid there’s not a single aircraft to spare?

      They don’t want to miss out on the frequent flier miles.

  10. I think the locked guns luggage law is only internal US flights. If I am not mistaken this law is what allows a person in transit in the US to pass through with a locally banned firearm in an unloaded condition in their car trunk.

  11. Your summary says “American Airlines sent their suitcase to NY instead of DC”. The article says “A bag belonging to agents travelling with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was mistakenly put on a flight from New York to Los Angeles, not to Washington.” Therefore their bags were sent to LA, not NY (they started in NY).

  12. @caroline & douchesniper

    Nowhere in the story does it say that the bag wasn’t locked.

    “One source told NBC that the suitcase was inspected and cleared for shipment by Transportation Security Administration screeners who put a seal over the bag at Kennedy Airport. ”

    The bag was obviously prepared correctly (locked) which is why the TSA cleared it. So, no retraction is necessary.

    And this is why reading is FUN-damental.

    1. By saying “Good thing the TSA doesn’t let us lock them out of our suitcases, huh?” Cory implies that they weren’t locked.

      1. Sorry, but you need a high school English refresher course.

        “Good thing the TSA doesn’t let us lock them out of our suitcases, huh?”

        In this sentence, the pronoun them refers to the guns and the word out is used to mean outside. So, replacing those words gives us:

        Good thing the TSA doesn’t let us lock the guns outside of our suitcases, huh?

        This implies that since locking guns inside a suitcases was useless, that it would be even worse if we were allowed to carry guns trigger-locked but outside a suitcase.

        He was using sarcasm to make a point.

        1. So, by your cold stone logic, if we replaced that sentence with “Good thing the TSA doesn’t let us question them about our suitcase location, huh?” would *have* to mean the ‘them’ would still refer to guns, thus meaning: “Good thing the TSA doesn’t let us question guns about our suitcase location, huh?”

          All I’m saying is there’s no way to know for sure what was meant by that sentence as both your interpretation as well as Agies’ (“Good thing the TSA doesn’t let us lock the TSA out of our suitcases, huh?”) are equally relevant in the context. The only person who can tell us for sure is Cory.

          I personally read it the same as Agies. It takes less changing of words, flows more naturally.

        2. Sorry, but you need a high school English refresher course.

          When chastising someone’s reading comprehension skills, it’s generally a good idea to double-check your own set of those skills before making condescending statements.

          “Good thing the TSA doesn’t let us lock them out of our suitcases, huh?”

          In this sentence, the pronoun them refers to the guns and the word out is used to mean outside.

          Bad! Bad reading comprehension!

          In that statement, the pronoun “them” refers to the TSA; the word “guns” isn’t in that sentence, so the pronoun couldn’t grammatically apply to it.

          This implies that since locking guns inside a suitcases was useless, that it would be even worse if we were allowed to carry guns trigger-locked but outside a suitcase.

          No, he’s actually complaining about the fact that the TSA has the ability to go through luggage, as they have the legal authority to cut any lock in order to go through the contents. Cory’s argument is that if the TSA could be locked out of luggage, they wouldn’t be able to steal items out of it.

  13. @Zan is correct. They were checked in at NY and went to LAX.

    Also regarding locks and luggage, if the bags belonged to people in Netanyahu’s retinue, would they count as “diplomatic bags” and thus not subject to normal rules?

  14. -Zan #15, don’t be so picky. What could possibly go wrong if someone misreads which airport luggage went to/should go?
    …Oh right. Tsk, CD. Very tsk.

  15. Traveling w/ anything considered ‘firearm’ in your own locked (non TSA lock) hard sided case is a great way to keep your goodies from walking off.

    Also, maybe the TSA will react more to your lost bag if you say “it’s the one with the declared firearm inside”

    I suppose a “TSA/baggage thief” would know it’s gotta be a gun or something valuable inside with a ‘firearm’ then crowbar it open only to find your hard drive and digi-cams.

    I saw this talk at “the Last HOPE” con
    “Packing & the Friendly Skies
    Why Transporting Firearms May Be The Best Way To Safeguard Your Tech When You Fly”
    Presentation Slides are available for reference.

    1. “I suppose a “TSA/baggage thief” would know it’s gotta be a gun or something valuable inside with a ‘firearm’ then crowbar it open only to find your hard drive and digi-cams.”

      Aren’t all bags x-rayed? The operator could easily tip off his dirty associate when firearms pass by.

  16. I’ve gotten too wrapped up in bitching about the recent leftist slant on BB, so I’m going to try and note as many issues as possible where I think there is support on both right and left.

    I hang around and post to a couple of the most well known right wing sites on the web, and there is –every bit– as much distaste for the TSA there as here. If you think conservatives believe we are made safe by banning pocketknives and 4 ounces of shampoo in your carry-on, you are completely misled.

    Getting rid of the TSA would clearly be a major net positive for the traveling public. However, it would be a major net negative for the careers of many TSA functionaries. How exactly do you think Congress weighs these impacts?? Yep.

    1. Honestly I think if both sides wouldn’t bristle so much at each other and were willing to come together as americans instead of party members, and say “this is stupid, knock it off”, we wouldn’t have such problems.

      Having a security crisis amid a pre-existing upsurge of partisan division in American culture is probably part of why so much of this stupidity still happens when a healthy majority of the public thinks it’s nonsense.

      1. It’s clear that there is media bias in favor of shoddy thinking (note – not ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ thinking)

        Every time the TSA announces another Stasi-like policy, the news rags and anchor droids always seem to find plenty of numbnuts in airport queues who obediently join in the chorus of “Well….as long as it makes us safer…..”

    2. And of course the predictably immediate Republican chorus of “OMG! They’re loosening the TSA restrictions! We’re all going to die at the hands of Communist Muslim Nazis from Kenya!” would never happen, would it?

      In the event you are sincere, let’s have this be Republican-introduced and sponsored, OK? In both houses of Congress. Then I’d take it seriously.

      1. When I say conservatives think the TSA is bullshit, I’m thinking of non office-holding conservatives.

        I doubt there are five national officeholders of either party who have the guts to go up against our safety-obsessed public culture (America, the first Nerf Nation) by trying to kill the TSA.

        1. Here is one office-holding conservative who has gone up against the TSA, or at least against the Federal Air Marshals (who are IMO the most egregiously useless part of the TSA). I don’t agree with the guy on very many issues, but I support him completely in trying to kill the FAM program.

      2. mn_camera, step it down. There’s no need to make this a partisan argument. The TSA couldn’t survive if it didn’t have ill-informed support at both ends of the political spectrum.

        1. That you dislike the fact that it is largely a partisan argument is not my problem.

          There is exactly one political party in the US that makes political hay out of hysterical fear-mongering. The elephant in the room (reference completely intentional and appropriate) is that there is a large and easily swayed portion of the body politic who are disinclined to think too hard about anything other than whether to supersize their drive-through order, and generally believe the last, loudest thing they’ve heard.

  17. I used to routinely pack a handgun in my checked suitcase. No case or anything, just stuck it in a folded up pair of jeans or something.

    I haven’t done that in at least ten years, so I can’t say for sure, but I thought that nowadays when you declare a firearm they stick a big day-glo sticker on your suitcase that says, “I have a gun inside of me.” Does anyone know if this is true?

    1. The Brady bill prohibits the marking of luggage with firearms in them. It is also the bill responsible for the rules on checking firearms in bags, implemented long before the TSA.

  18. I have repeatedly had things stolen or broken when returning to any NYC are airport since Sep 11. If luggage is delayed, that’s almost a guarantee that you will have some contents stolen before it is delivered to you.

    Those baggage handlers must have an awesome union.

  19. @cratermoon

    Bags do not automatically become ‘diplomatic bags’ if you are a diplomat. The ‘diplomatic bag’ is a mechanism to transport documents etc from a national territory to its embassies. You do not dip in and out of it for handguns etc… Normal rules should apply.

  20. Nobody seems to be at all concerned about the fact that people are apparently legally transporting firearms in the US in situations where they are not at all secure. (How many baggage handlers, etc., does it take to steal a gun?)

    I will not even begin to introduce the argument about whether or not people should have handguns at all. Apparently the Israeli Security Service feels that their protectee is safe in an airplane, but I wouldn’t count on that either!

  21. I don’t give a fuck if the bag was locked or not. If someone stole out of the bag, that means criminals have access to the baggage. If they can steal a gun out, who says they can’t sneak a bomb in? While everyone is standing in line having their shoes inspected, the baggage end of the security situation is apparently wide open. Fine job, TSA!

  22. If that was the intent , it was a very poorly constructed sentence. My guess is that Cory does indeed mean locking the TSA out.

    I don’t really see the point of using a different lock. The TSA likes their specified locks because they have a master key. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have bolt cutters to chop the other locks. I imagine there are procedures that attempt to limit access to these tools, but I’m sure it isn’t something the mngt is overly concerned with.

    On the policy side, I think you have to capitalize on this. The TSA doesn’t provide enough relatively appalling controversies, setting aside the general privacy violations, and if you want to hurt them, you’ve got to take what you can get.

    1. If you take a close look you can see the outline (the darker area) of where the muzzle was when it fired. The muzzle flash dosn’t happen the instant the trigger is pulled. There is time for his finger to come off the trigger while the seer and disconector interact releasing the striker which propells the pin into the primer which ignits the powder that begins to burn propelling the bullet down the barrel and out. After the bullet has left the muzzle then comes the muzzle flash. In high speed photography all that takes an eternity.

      1. I wondered about the muzzle flash, too at first. There are more photos in the Flickr set showing the whole process.

        How many bad guys have the TSA actually caught trying to board planes?

      2. Not that anyone will particularly care, but I would venture to say such a shot (photo) would be quite impossible.

        While on the time scale of high speed photography, all of the inner mechanisms of gun operate rather quickly, three things happen remarkably slowly which guarantee that flash is is photoshopped in front of the image:
        1) The slide would still be recoiling and, even after it slides forward and into battery, an empty casing would likely still be in frame.
        2) The recoil of the shot would move the gun much more dramatically back and upwards, for the gun to be in the position it is, with the slide forward, it would have to be on the back-side of the recoil–that is, coming back down and settling back onto target. By then the muzzle flash would have dissipated.
        3) While the mechanisms and chemistry and physics involved in shooting a gun may be wicked fast (or slow, in terms of high-speed photography), human muscles are dreadfully slow by comparison. There is no way that the finger could release from the trigger, extract itself from the trigger guard, and come to rest on the frame of the pistol.

        I realize the photo isn’t the subject of the broader discussion here–and also that no one makes any claims that it’s not photoshopped–but make not mistake about it, that photo is impossible.

        As a demonstration:
        A quick youtube search turned up this video which shows that the finger is still squeezing the trigger as the gun is recoiling.

        1. Sorry anon but when you say impossible of course you mean possible. From the Flickr page “Night firing to catch muzzle flash. This is a single shot with camera flash.”…” I never noticed it! Was not intential but the flash actually fires first catching the finger off the trigger and then the pistol was fired catching the muzzel flash. I’ll have to remember that the next time we try it. Would make a good photo for one of those, “What is wrong with this picture?” “

    2. Adding to wormbaby, it was taken with a delayed flash and longer exposure time. The muzzle flash was captured, then the movements wasn’t and then the flash fired to capture the still gun, everything in a a second. Check the other photos from the source link.

      Glock slo-mo.

  23. Donniebnyc:
    “…the pronoun them refers to the guns and the word out is used to mean outside.”

    Properly, “them” and “out” should be in quotes if you are attempting to establish them as the primary cause of action in your reply.

    “…the pronoun “them” refers to the guns and the word “out” is used to mean outside.”


    Your turn. Or you’re turn.

  24. In this sentence, the pronoun them refers to the guns and the word out is used to mean outside. So, replacing those words gives us:

    I’m sorry, but it’s always the funniest thing when someone makes some insulting “guess you should go back to high school” comment, and then gets it all wrong. You version made no sense at all.

    The word “them” in the sentence more likely refers to the TSA. That is: “Good thing the TSA doesn’t let us lock them [the TSA] out of our suitcases, huh?”

    This refers to the general ban on locks except those explicitly openable using TSA master keys. Thus, the TSA doesn’t allow us to lock the TSA out of our bags.

    However, as several people have commented, this is most likely incorrect, since apparently (don’t know this myself) the TSA requires that you use non-TSA openable locks for guns.

    The article doesn’t mention whether the suitcases had locks, and whether they were openable by the TSA.

  25. When I travel, I buy a seat for my gun and lock myself in my suitcase. It’s fun to scare the TSA agents when they try to steal my swag.

  26. I’m betting that what Cory meant by that sentence was that there’d be a lot less theft from baggage if the TSA let us put our own locks on them and respected our obvious wish to not have our luggage gone through by badly supervised strangers when we’re not there to watch.

    There’s a serious problem with theft from baggage by TSA employees, and the TSA’s done bleep-all to address it. That Newark airport employee who’d been constantly stealing laptops, cameras, and other expensive gadgets, and selling them on eBay, was finally busted by regular Newark law enforcement acting on a tip from a TV news crew whose $15K video camera had gone missing. The TSA’s contribution to the arrest was to ignore a long string of complaints from travelers whose belongings had disappeared when they went through that airport. The guy doing the stealing was not a criminal mastermind. The TSA is just that lax.

    This latest story demonstrates the security implications of TSA employee thefts. Our checked luggage is where we’re supposed to put all the items we aren’t allowed to carry into the crew and passenger spaces. Inadequate baggage-handling protocols that let employees steal from passengers also make it easier for employees to circumvent airport security systems.

    Losing Netanyahu’s bodyguard’s Glocks is a diplomatic embarrassment, and an expensive loss (four Glocks > $2000), but it also means that four top-of-the-line handguns are loose somewhere in our network of airports.

    One more thing: Notary Sojac, this isn’t a liberal vs. conservative thing. As far as I can tell, everyone hates the TSA, and no one thinks they’re doing a good job.

      1. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? But they just go on doing what they do. Something’s funny there. (Noted for further study: the TSA breaking every promise they’ve ever made about the wretched no-fly list.)

  27. Sorry man, but you are wrong.

    The TSA REQUIRES that they be locked out of gun carrying luggage. If I check a bag with a gun at the airport the TSA inspects it and I lock it and I keep the key specifically so that they can not open it. Thats how its done and many photogs (as one example) carry a starter pistol or actual firearm so that their gear won’t get stolen by airport staff…. I think I even read about that on BB once.

    Dunno what happened to the Israeli guns, perhaps a TSA goon got particularly greedy, but I think its more likely spy vs spy stuff, ie those specific guns were targeted by some nation’s intelligence for some reason, its not just random theft.

    1. Thebes, any circumstance that makes it hard for TSA employees to steal stuff is going to make it much harder for unnamed operatives to sneak it and steal it. Besides, why in heaven’s name would they pick nonpublic spaces at airports as the place to do it? I give your story full points for creativity, but none for credibility.

  28. As much as I love to hate the TSA, it seems more likely that an airline baggage handler did the deed here. My understanding is that this security team was connecting at JFK from an El Al flight to an AA flight to DC, so they probably had to claim their luggage to pass through customs and then re-check it. It would pass through a number of hands (TSA, whoever is responsible for interline baggage transfers, then AA baggage handlers) before getting put on the wrong plane.

    The fact that it was put on the wrong plane strongly suggests it was an airline employee and not TSA, as the airline employee is the one with the ability to put the bag on the wrong flight to make it harder to track down at what point the guns were stolen.

    1. Micah, I think you’re right. Theft from checked baggage has been a problem long before the TSA ever came into being. The fact that this is a symptom of a potentially dangerous security hole and the TSA has not effectively dealt with it is a separate issue (if good stuff can be stolen from checked bags undetected, then bad stuff can go into checked bags undetected). This incident will get a lot of attention, but most of the garden-variety theft of the nice stuff you couldn’t carry on is going to be done by those with the means, motive and opportunity: the baggage handlers who work behind the scenes. From the airlines perspective, it’s still a small enough problem to be tolerable to them.

  29. This is a common tactic of air freight thieves. Happens to luggage and airmail packages all the time. When the thief takes something they then put it on the wrong plane and send it somewhere else. That means it has to go through more hands in the process of getting to its rightful owner. This makes it harder to find the actual thief if an investigation is launched.

  30. Why o why dont people who have an important luggage have a gps + beeper device implanted inside there suitcase/guncase?

    That way when it goes missing they just beep the beeper and it responds with the gps cords of the luggage/case.

    You know something simple like that.

    and btw if you say something like that could worry the security when they xray the case then reveal it to them when checking in the guns that a locater is attached.

    Why not attach it to the guns themself each one with a gps tag locked to the gun that you would need a hacksaw and a few hours to get off if you dont have the key.

  31. 2 things I’m not sure of here:
    -Israeli PM flies commercial US airline on US visits? Why?
    -Same question goes for Shin Bet agents protecting the PM.

    Not sure how it works outside the US, but when I check a gun on a flight here, I have to follow the protocol:
    1. Take gun in case or luggage to check in counter.
    2. Tell the agent ‘I need to check a firearm’
    3. At agent’s request, open luggage with fire arm and allow them to inspect. They visually check to make sure it is not loaded.
    4. You lock the case with your lock, they tag it and cargo it.

    The only way they can steal a weapon is to either disappear the entire piece of luggage, or cut the lock.
    If you don’t declare the weapon or lock the case, someone’s going to see it in an X-ray and steal it unfortunately.

  32. If this is how Homeland Security treats its allies weapons, why would anyone be concerned with giving them our sensitive information?

  33. Chicago United Airlines baggage handler outside the plane angrily told me I didn’t turn my bag the right way after I hoisted it on the rack, and “he’d take care of it.” (They made us give our overhead luggage to them.)

    I immediately told the flight attendant he was threatening to sabotage my bag before we even departed, and sure enough mine was the only one missing. It’s still missing. She just discounted the threat and said they are mean in Chicago to her too.

    Flight 6091 Tuesday am 7-6. Police need name of both handler and stewardess (witness) but no one from United has provided the names yet. Clearly a criminal issue. United can learn a few things if they start an investigation. They haven’t called once.

  34. All this blame of TSA, when it could just be the baggage handlers. Where once there was one set of thieves working at the airport, now there are two.

  35. The authority to open your baggage is a thief’s dream. The airline blames security, security blames the airline, nobody’s responsible, nobody cares.

  36. I used to fly with guns all the time. You have to have them “inspected”, then they put a special “STEAL ME!!!” tag on the bag to let everyone know there are guns in it.

    Then, the bag gets x-rayed. Then you can snap a real lock on it.

    My Master lock was cut off the suitcase every single time. the only thing that saved my guns was that I am anal and locked each one to the metal suitcase chassis with a trigger lock and/or slide/cable lock.

    TSA is just another excuse for people to shop in other people’s luggage.

    1. This was what I was getting at, before I got a reply from someone “demanding a retraction” and got scolded for someone else’s inability to RTFA. The rumor is, to prevent your stuff from being stolen, declare a firearm packed with it, because then you can use your own lock. If the TSA cuts those locks, and declared firearms get stolen, then this trick is useless and you really have no defense against TSA thieves.

      I guess I will just have to stick to my policy of carrying on all valuables — and if I can’t do that (as in the case of firearms), then I will have to figure out a way to get there without flying, go without those items, or not travel.

  37. Frequent international and domestic US air traveler here. I have never used TSA approved locks and from the looks of it I never will. I use the biggest toughest locks I can find that will still fit through the hasp on my luggage, about a 2x2x3/4 inch case, with a 3/8 inch armored/hardened chro-moly bolt, and a 7-pin tube tumbler system. Sure the things are pickable but you have to know how and it is pretty tricky. Point is, that I have never had my locks cut off, I know they tried but you would need some serious bolt cutters and a moose to cut it (I guess they didn’t want to spring for the pneumatic type cutters). All that ever happens is that the handlers/TSA have me open it (when they ask), and re-lock it after it goes trough the x-ray machine. No lost items, no big deal. Though that doesn’t mean I haven’t had stuff come out the other end of the meat grinder broken. Seriously those morons must beat and ever-lovin’ crap out of our luggage. So there’s my two cents. Hope that helps.

    PS, soft sided luggage is for the lame. What sense is there in barricading the door if you’re just going to leave the windows open. Hard case luggage is the only way to go.

  38. I think when person of this calibre is travelling there must be a special place in which these items be logged . i dont think this happened by chance .THe authority must be held accountable for these ills.

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