Feds Ask for Vigilance on Trains based upon information found at Bin Laden Compound
Thursday, May 5, 2011 | Updated 8:00 PM EDT
Feds Issue Train Warning
By Jonathan Dienst and Shimon Prokupecz
An advisory has been sent to law enforcement officials asking them to be vigilant about train security based on information uncovered at Osama bin Laden’s compound after his death, officials said.
Officials stressed the advisory is general in nature and the information apparently uncovered from the bin Laden house in Pakistan dates back more than a year.
According to NBC News, U.S. officials say they have not found reference to specific plots. Instead, they say they’ve found what they call “aspirational” items — events al-Qaida operatives were interested in trying to make happen.
There was nothing specific to New York, according to a law enforcement official.
“We have no information of any imminent terrorist threat to the U.S. rail sector, but wanted to make our partners aware of the alleged plotting,” Department of Homeland Security spokesman Matt Chandler said in a statement.“We want to stress that this alleged al-Qaida plotting is based on initial reporting, which is often misleading or inaccurate and subject to change,”
A government advisory sent Thursday says that as far back as February 2010, al-Qaida was contemplating “an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary” of the 9/11 attacks.
One option, the advisory says, was trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or on a bridge. Such an attempt would probably only work once, the material in bin Laden’s house said, because tilting or tampering with the rails would be spotted, the advisory says.
Other material mentions a desire to target major mass-transit hubs, an interest long familiar to law enforcement because of the history of al-Qaida attacks on rail targets in Spain, the U.K. and India.
The FBI and Homeland Security are encouraging local governments to be vigilant. But there are no plans to issue a terror alert, because there’s still no specific or credible intelligence of any actual attack plan in the works.
Rep. Peter King said “there was information found in the last several days — I don’t know where it’s come from — but that al-Qaida was considering having an attack on mass transit or trains before the 10th anniversary of September 11th.”