Info from bin Laden raid shows al-Qaida considered attacking U.S. trains

(The Associated Press circulated the following on May 5, 2011.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. Some of the first information gleaned from Osama bin Laden's compound indicates al-Qaida considered attacking U.S. trains on the upcoming anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. But counterterrorism officials say they believe the planning never got beyond the initial phase and have no recent intelligence pointing to an active plot for such an attack.

As of February 2010, the terror organization was considering plans to attack the U.S. on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. One idea outlined in handwritten notes was to tamper with an unspecified U.S. rail track so that a train would fall off the track at a valley or a bridge, according to a joint FBI and Homeland Security bulletin sent to law enforcement officials around the country Thursday. The al-Qaida planners noted that if they attacked a train by tilting it, the plan would only succeed once because the tilting would be spotted the next time.

The warning, obtained by The Associated Press, was marked for "official use only."

The FBI and Homeland Security told local officials to be on the lookout for clips or spikes missing from train tracks, packages left on or near the tracks and other indications that a train could be vulnerable.

An official with the Association of American Railroads said the organization has received warnings from the federal government and is sharing the information throughout the railroad network. "We are always making sure that the system is run as safely and securely as possible," the organization's spokeswoman, Patricia Reilly, said.

U.S. officials have disrupted other terror plots that targeted rails, including a 2009 plan to blow up the New York City subway system.

Full story: Chicago Tribune

Friday, May 6, 2011
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