- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2001

The FBI yesterday warned the nation's utility companies to guard against possible contamination of water supplies by terrorists and asked U.S. military bases and Hollywood movie and television studios to increase security measures.

Federal authorities also prohibited indefinitely flights in the immediate vicinity of any major professional or collegiate sporting event.

The warnings are not based on any specific evidence of a direct threat, but rather on raw intelligence that there could be additional terrorists strikes in the wake of last week's attacks in New York and Washington, authorities said.

FBI officials said the concerns surfaced during its ongoing search for cohorts of the 19 hijackers who slammed three planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, killing more than 6,500 people. Eighty persons are being detained for questioning and another 200 being sought.

None has yet been formally charged in the attack, although prosecutors in Chicago yesterday charged Nageeb Abdul Jabar Mohammed Hadi with attempting to fly into that city with an illegal passport and airline uniforms on the day of the attacks. Carrying airline tickets under different names and at least three passports, he is being detained in Toronto, where his German airliner was forced down after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Yesterday's FBI advisory, a "terrorist threat advisory for infrastructures," was distributed by the American Water Works Association (AWWA), an industry group that represents 4,000 utilities that provide water to 180 million people in North America.

Pam Krider, AWWA spokeswoman, said the possible contamination of this country's water supply was identified in a 1998 report as one of eight key areas of concern. The association has been working with its members since to ensure they are prepared for "anything that might happen."

Liz Kalinowski, director of communications for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), which supplies water to Prince George's and Montgomery counties, said WSSC was "taking all appropriate steps to ensure the safety of its customers." She said security has been placed at its highest level and that checks were continuously being made on water quality.

The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority has been assured by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, from which it buys water, that security has been upgraded and the water supply is safe, said Libby Lawson, its spokeswoman. She also said D.C. officials have upgraded security at the Blue Plains wastewater-treatment plant.

Sandy Farrell, spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Water Authority, said all its facilities have been "locked down," police patrols have been increased and additional water sampling has begun. Shahram Mohsenin, director of Fairfax City's Department of Utilities, said he also had ordered an upgrade in security.

The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing countermeasures against a possible chemical or biological attack, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman said yesterday. Mrs. Whitman said that since Sept. 11, the EPA has met with officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in anticipation of terrorists releasing deadly viruses.

"We have preparations against that kind of eventuality," Mrs. Whitman said. "We're relooking at them. I want to make sure we keep up the focus."

The FBI warning to Hollywood prompted several studios to increase security, including shutting down entrances, erecting barricades and canceling studio tours.

One studio executive said the FBI provided "a threat advisory involving uncorroborated intelligence that a film studio in California could be the target of a terrorist attack in retaliation for any possible bombing attacks by the United States in Afghanistan."

The massive FBI investigation has sparked similar interest overseas, with authorities arresting or detaining several they believe may have been involved in the attack or have information about it.

In Germany, authorities said they were looking for two men believed to have helped plan the attacks and issued arrest warrants for Ramzi Binalshibh, 29, a Yemeni national, and Said Bahaji, 26, a German of Moroccan origin. Both are suspected of conspiring with three of the named hijackers, who also lived in Germany.

They said Mr. Bahaji lived in the same apartment as Mohamed Atta, identified by the FBI as one of five hijackers of the plane that hit the World Trade Center's north tower. Mr. Binalshibh lived at the same address, they said. Mr. Bahaji left Germany in September, flying via Turkey to Pakistan; Mr. Binalshibh was last seen in Hamburg, Germany, in August.

In London, a suspected leader of a terrorist group headed by bin Laden was en route to New York to be questioned by FBI agents after being arrested at Heathrow Airport soon after last week's attacks. Mufti Mohammed Khan, who security sources suspect is the second-in-command of the Jaish-i-Mohammed (Army of Mohammed), flew in from New York only a couple of hours after the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had been hit.

Police in France arrested seven persons suspected of plotting to attack U.S. sites in that country; Peruvian police have detained three men, including an Iraqi citizen, as possible suspects in the Sept. 11 attacks.

Meanwhile, an FBI-led task force continued yesterday to check U.S. banks to determine whether some of those involved in the planning of the Sept. 11 attacks benefited financially in last-minute stock trades. On Wednesday, the FBI asked banks nationwide to search for financial transactions that may have been made by at least 21 persons whom agents want to question.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt told a Senate committee Thursday the multiagency task force was reviewing records to determine if the terrorists profited from put-option contracts on the stock of AMR Corp. (American Airlines), UAL Corp. (United Airlines) and Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. in the days before the attacks.

Tom Ramstack contributed to this report.

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