Thursday, November 27, 2008
Holiday travelers in New York and Washington yesterday faced heightened security in subway and rail stations after federal authorities warned of "uncorroborated but plausible information" received in late September about a possible al-Qaeda attack.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued the warning to state and local officials, saying that al-Qaeda may have discussed targeting New York City transit systems, DHS and New York police spokesmen said.
DHS spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said that "neither DHS nor FBI has any specific information to confirm that this plot has developed beyond aspirational planning." She said the warning was issued as a routine matter out of caution before the year-end holiday season.
In a statement, the New York Police Department said that it was aware of an unsubstantiated report and cited "an abundance of caution" in deploying additional resources in local transit systems, which it characterized as a "not uncommon" response to threat information. The FBI referred questions to DHS.
DHS said federal and state authorities are working "to follow every possible thread," and a federal law enforcement official said no arrests have been made. Kudwa said DHS is not changing the terrorism threat level nationally or for transit systems.
Officials in New York and Washington said transit passengers in both cities and five others with subway systems may see an increased police presence over coming weeks. This coincides with random bag searches and other security measures instituted in Washington before this month's election and the presidential inauguration in January.
-- Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson