- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 22, 2002

The FBI yesterday warned that terrorists could be planning to use fuel-tanker trucks for attacks in this country and abroad, aimed mainly at Jewish schools or synagogues, in the latest in a series of alerts by the FBI over the past several weeks.
The warning went to state and local law enforcement agencies and to the FBI's 56 field offices across the country, although no targets were specifically identified and the source of the information was not listed.
The advisories cited "uncorroborated information" the FBI had obtained, although law enforcement authorities were told to "make contact with appropriate Jewish community representatives and officials at trucking and fuel-delivery facilities that operate fuel tanker trucks or commercial fueling stations and emphasize the need to report suspicious activity or persons."
President Bush yesterday told reporters at a seniors' center in Orlando, Fla., that, "Anytime we get any kind of threat that we think is serious, we'll put it out and people need to respond accordingly."
The warning, approved by the Office of Homeland Security, was sent over the bureau's National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, which allows the FBI to send warnings or other information to police agencies in all 50 states.
The advisory also lists fuel depots as possible targets.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, testifying yesterday before a House Appropriations subcommittee on his plans to reorganize the FBI in the wake of the September 11 attacks, declined comment on the latest warning.
Law enforcement authorities said the FBI decision to send the warning to police agencies across the country came after interviews with captured al Qaeda terrorists and Taliban fighters being detained at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
The authorities said the detainees told investigators that a scheme involving fuel-tanker trucks had been discussed by several key members of the two organizations. U.S. intelligence agents said al Qaeda terrorists have a history of using fuel tankers as weapons.
The newest FBI warning notwithstanding, the country's overall alert status remained unchanged yesterday from code yellow, the third-highest stage of alert.
Meanwhile, the FBI said yesterday that a Nevada man's assertion that his cellular phone picked up people talking in Arabic about a planned terrorist attack was "not credible."
FBI Special Agent Daron Borst called the investigation "substantially complete" after agents spent 4 hours questioning Michael Hamdan and giving him a polygraph test. Mr. Borst declined to discuss results of the test or elaborate further on the investigation.
Mr. Hamdan, 54, told the Associated Press that he failed the lie-detector test.
"They told me everything was OK, but there was some uncertainty about a few things," Mr. Hamdan said as his wife drove him to their home in suburban Henderson after the test.
Mr. Hamdan, who was born in Lebanon and speaks Arabic, stuck by his story during the interview with the AP.
He said that on June 15 he overheard Arabic-speaking men say to another, "We are in the city of corruption, the city of prostitution, the city of gambling, the city of unbelievers."
Mr. Hamdan said he believed the men were referring to Las Vegas and that one who said, "We are going to hit them on the day of freedom" meant a terrorist attack was planned for July Fourth.


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