- Washington Guardian - Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Seven foreigners were detained early Wednesday by Massachusetts authorities after being caught trespassing on a major reservoir that supplies drinking water to Boston, raising new terror fears in the grieving city, officials said.

The Quabbin Reservoir, a critical infrastructure site, is a heavily guarded facility and monitored by law enforcement consistently.

Greg Comcowich, a FBI spokesman in Boston, confirmed the detention of the seven men telling the Washington Guardian “the FBI is helping local law enforcement with everything we can.”

“Whenever there’s any type of an incident at a critical infrastructure site, it’s pretty routine that we get called. We’re doing our due diligence,” Special Agent Comcowich said. “This is not just something that we just stop investigating — this type of incident is something we’re looking into to ensure everything, every step, is covered.”

The Joint Terrorism Task Force was notified as soon as the men were detained, he said.

The Massachusetts water authority released a statement saying, it “operates a state-of-the-art, real-time monitoring system around the clock to ensure the safety of our water supply.”

“Any abnormalities are detected immediately,” it said. “As an extra precaution, water quality samples were analyzed at MWRA’s lab yesterday and all came back normal. There is no evidence of any water quality issues at the Quabbin Reservoir following the trespassing incident.”

The water is tested daily (and continuously) for its biological, chemical and physical properties. As is our protocol, when anything unusual occurs, we conducted additional testing for a wider range of potential contaminants in more locations.

The Massachusetts State Police are handling the investigation.

“We need to keep in mind what is going on and what the possible charges will be if there are any,” said Jeffrey Addicott, a terrorism expert at St. Mary’s University in Texas. “They would be local charges — not federal charges at this point.”

Five men and two women were detained, including a Saudi national and four Pakistani around 2:30 a.m., according to a law enforcement official, with knowledge of the incident.

“They were not found with any weapons on them,” the official said. “Two of the men, however, were highly educated engineers.”

Addicott said law enforcement is doing a public service by releasing the nationalities of the men.

“The public has a right to know the background of these men arrested,” Addicott said. “We need to show terrorists intent on doing us harm that we are watching are critical infrastructures and that we mean business.”

Addicott said that it would be very difficult to poison the water supply because you have to have “truck loads of biological material to do any harm because it disperses so quickly.”

One of the major concerns is bombing or destroying critical infrastructure.

“I think if they were casing the place out it was to perform a cyber attack on the system or to find a way to breach the reservoir,” Addicott said.

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