Report: FBI hunts for 6 with nuclear plant, oil pipeline plans
- The Times (UK)
THURSDAY NOVEMBER 01 2001
FBI fury as men with nuclear plan escape
FROM KATTY KAY IN WASHINGTON
WITH America on top security alert, the FBI was hunting yesterday for six
men of Middle Eastern appearance carrying plans of a nuclear power plant and
the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline who were picked up by police officers in the
Mid West over the weekend, but were then released.
The incident is thought to be connected with the latest FBI alert and senior
intelligence officials are furious that the men were set free before they
could be fully questioned.
The men were travelling in two groups of three in white saloon cars when
they were pulled over by police in the Mid West, according to the Knight
Ridder News Service. Security officials have refused to disclose further
The men were searched and questioned and the state officers discovered
detailed plans and photographs of a nuclear power plant in Florida, along
with box cutters � the weapons used in the September 11 attacks � and other
The men, who appeared to be of Middle Eastern origin and held Israeli
passports, were then interviewed by immigration officials. When their
passports and visas were found to be in order the officers, who were not
aware of the country�s imminent security alert, let the men go without first
calling in the FBI to question them more thoroughly.
It is not clear why the men were pulled over in the first place nor why
intelligence officers were not given a chance to interview them. Agents
suspect that the men will by now have switched cars and tried to flee the
country, possibly to Canada.
Intelligence officials were especially concerned about the nuclear plant
details. America�s nuclear facilities received special attention in the
latest FBI alert. The men were also carrying plans of the 800-mile
Trans-Alaska pipeline, which delivers 17 per cent of America�s oil.
There are three nuclear facilities in Florida, which have now been advised
to step up security. One of the plants has called in local police as an
extra security precaution.
The news came as the US banned private flights near US nuclear facilities
for the next ten days, in connection with the warning of another terrorist
attack. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered the nation�s 103 nuclear
power plants to increase security.
At a time when police have unprecedented powers to arrest and detain people
who are merely suspected of having links to terrorist activities, the
release of these six men has infuriated the FBI. The incident suggests a
dangerous lack of co-ordination between different law enforcement bodies.
Under America�s new anti-terrorist laws, police can hold someone almost
indefinitely on charges of being a �material witness� to terrorism.
Canada announced that it gave the US important intelligence about another
possible imminent terrorist attack. Canadian secret services intercepted
telephone calls and e-mails from al-Qaeda operatives in Canada that referred
to a major event taking place �down south� this week.
Law enforcement officials said the US military intercepted numerous other
calls leading up to the alert, which all used the same coded phrases. The
FBI received intelligence about the new threat on Monday.
More than 1,000 people have been arrested since September 11 in connection
with the attacks.
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