Info From Bin Laden Raid Shows Al Qaeda Considered Attacking Trains
WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Some of the first information gleaned from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan indicates al Qaeda considered attacking U.S. trains on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. However, counter terrorism officials say they believe the plot was only aspirational and have no recent intelligence about any active plan for such an attack.
A Homeland Security intelligence warning sent to law enforcement officials around the country says that as of February 2010, the terror organization was considering tampering with an unspecified U.S. rail track so that a train would fall off the track at a valley or a bridge. The warning was obtained by The Associated Press and marked for official use only.
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“We’re vulnerable. We don’t get checked. We have the freedoms we have and obviously that would leave us exposed to an attack,” Bridget McAlphin of Freeport told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.
This information appears to be the first widely circulated intelligence pulled from the May 1 raid. After killing bin Laden, Navy SEALs took computers, DVDs and documents from his house.
Intelligence analysts have been reviewing and translating the material, looking for information about pending plots and other terror connections.
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“We want to stress that this alleged al Qaeda plotting is based on initial reporting, which is often misleading or inaccurate and subject to change,” Homeland spokesman Matt Chandler said.
The government has no plans to issue an official terror alert, he said.
“While it is clear there was some level of planning, we have no recent information to indicate an active ongoing plot to target transportation and no information on possible locations or specific targets,” the May 5 warning said.
“We’ve gotten more intelligence from this operation than we’ve gotten in the previous 10 years,” Rep. Peter King said.
However, King said that it would be impossible to have the security mechanism used in airports on mass transit.
“It would bring the entire city, the entire country to a halt,” King said.
On Monday the FBI and Department of Homeland Security warned law enforcement around the country that bin Laden’s death could inspire retaliatory attacks in the U.S. They said the transportation sector — including U.S. rails — remain attractive targets.
In 2009, officials arrested Najibullah Zazi, who admitted to receiving al Qaeda weapons and explosives training in Pakistan. Zazi was born in Afghanistan and later moved to Queens with his family.
Zazi planned to use explosives to attack major New York City transit hubs — including Grand Central Station and Times Square Station — while riding 1, 2, 3 and 6 lines during rush hour. Zarein Ahmedzay also has admitted to a role in the plot.
The men said they were angered by U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.
Zazi pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support for a terrorist organization in 2010. He will be sentenced later this year.
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