- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — A crude sketch of Grand Central Terminal was found at the home of a suspect in the Madrid train bombings, but was not considered cause for alarm, New York’s police commissioner said yesterday.

The one-page, hand-drawn document “was a very basic schematic,” Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said. “It’s not an operational plan. It’s not something that would indicate an immediate threat.”

The Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported that the drawing and other data were on a computer disk seized about two weeks after the train bombings in Madrid that killed about 200 people on March 11, 2004. Spanish police turned over the disk to the FBI and CIA in December.

Commissioner Kelly said the data — found on the disk of a laptop computer — also were shared with the New York Police Department (NYPD) counterterrorism division and city transit officials, who concluded that the sketch depicted Grand Central.

The material also included photographs, and a drawing of a private building in the city that Commissioner Kelly refused to identify. But an analysis found no indication of a terrorism plot, and authorities decided there was no need to alert the public, he said.

“We didn’t see it as a threatening piece of information,” he said.

At Grand Central yesterday, security appeared to be at its usual high level, with National Guardsmen, law-enforcement officers carrying machine guns, and bomb-sniffing dogs.

“I’m used to this,” said Elaine Weaver, a tourist from Bristol, England, who was passing through the station. “We’re used to bomb scares everywhere. So you’re careful, but it doesn’t deter me.”

The NYPD’s intelligence division had studied the bombings in Madrid as a possible template for a New York attack, and tightened security in the subways and at commuter train stations. Those measures had been in place long before the city received word of the sketch.

“This is not something I think people should be panicked about or worried about,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said. “We took the appropriate steps, and we do not think that in that particular case there was a real plan to attack Grand Central.”

Descriptions of the drawing were conflicting. A Spanish police official said it depicted a facade similar to that of Grand Central; Commissioner Kelly said it showed only the building’s interior.

The Spanish police official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the sketch was found in the home of Mohammed Almallah, a Syrian arrested in Madrid on March 24. He was released but is still considered a suspect.

Mr. Almallah was questioned over purported ties to two suspects jailed in connection with the bombings, El Mundo said. Twenty-four persons are in jail, and at least 40 who were arrested and released are still considered suspects in the bombings.

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