U.S. warns ships, subways could be next targets

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

September 18, 2001

U.S. warns ships, subways could be next targets A continuing threat: Attorney-General seeks greater powers to fight terror

By Tom Blackwell National Post, with files from news services


John Ashcroft, the U.S. Attorney-General, yesterday called for greater police wiretap powers while warning that suspected terrorists are still at large in the United States and may strike next with a completely different type of attack.

Mr. Ashcroft renewed his plea for Congress to enact an anti-terrorism law that would give police freer rein to wiretap suspects and stiffen penalties for those who harbour terrorists.

Last week's attacks, in which more than 5,000 people died, may not be the end of the terrorists' plans, Mr. Ashcroft said. The United States faces a continuing threat, he said, because "associates of the hijackers that have ties to terrorist organizations may be a continuing presence in the United States."

One report suggests the next incident, if there is one, may come in a form as shockingly unexpected as the first one, when airliners commandeered by terrorists slammed into office buildings crammed with people.

Investigators who have checked into flight training schools where several of the hijackers learned to fly have broadened their net to include training in other professions, such as medicine and engineering, said the Boston Herald.

The FBI and other police have begun looking into flight and medical schools in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma, the Herald said.

Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, also warned that another attack may be in the offing and could come in an unfamiliar shape.

"We just saw the use of aircraft. It could be ships, it could be subways [next time]," he said on Fox News.

Robert Mueller, the FBI director, said yesterday 49 people are being detained for questioning in the investigation under immigration legislation, while several warrants have been issued for so-called material witnesses, who may have substantial knowledge of the crimes and could be attempting to flee the country.

Those warrants have been sealed.

In one of its largest investigations ever, the FBI has received 7,700 telephone calls and 47,000 tips on the Internet related to the hijackings. Mr. Ashcroft assigned officers of the U.S. Marshals Service to help handle the deluge of information.

Mr. Mueller stressed that there were no warning signs of last week's attacks. Speaking at a news conference with Mr. Ashcroft yesterday, Mr. Mueller rejected suggestions the agency had dropped the ball and that at least two suspected hijackers had managed to enter the country despite being on watch lists.

He said he knew of one incident in which a name had been passed on, but the "individual or individuals" named were already in the United States.

"It is very difficult, quite often, to find somebody once they're in the country," he said.

"There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country."


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), September 18, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ