NEW YORK (PIX11)—Al Qaeda wanted to bomb passenger trains and the subway system on the 10th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks.
That's what information from computer files seized from Osama bin Laden reveals. It's led to a security alert for public transportation throughout the Tri State and the country.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin to local police departments on Thursday to be in a "heightened state of vigilance" in the wake of this new information translated from the personal computer files of the terrorist mastermind.
That heightened state of vigilance has also spurred the DHS to review "protective measures for all potential terrorist targets, including critical infrastructure and transportation systems across the country; deploying additional officers to non-secured areas at our nations airports; and identifying any new targeting rules that should be instituted to strengthen the ways we assess the risk of both passengers and cargo coming to the United States," according to DHS press secretary Matt Chandler.
Sunday's raid at Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan not only resulted in the Al Qaeda leader's death, it also allowed the Navy SEALs who carried it out to seize five computers and 10 hard drives, plus dozens of disks, USB sticks and other removable media.
The information gleaned from the files does not indicate that the train attack plan developed significantly after it was mentioned in the computer communications in February of last year. Still, the Department of Homeland Security views this as a threat, even if it is not an imminent one.
The intelligence recovered from Bin Laden's files is preliminary. DHS points out that its warnings are subject to change or even withdrawal. At the same time, analysts are only beginning to pore through the trove of information seized at the Bin Laden compound. It could lead to even more security alerts in the future, and to foiling more developed terror plots.
"There's several things we're looking for," House Homeland Security Committee Chair Peter King told PIX11 News, regarding the information seized from the Bin Laden compound that's currently being analyzed. "One, we want to find out what plots are in motion or being planned against the United States and its interests. Secondly, we want to find whatever operatives Al Qaeda has anywhere in the world... and one bit of information can lead to another."
Al Qaeda has been unsuccessful at attacking public transportation targets in the U.S., but has carried out attacks on train and bus systems in London, England, Madrid, Spain and Mumbai India between 2004 and 2006. More than 200 people died in those incidents, and thousands were injured.
For now, the FBI and DHS have warned law enforcement organizations with which they cooperate worldwide to be on the watch for missing "clips or spokes" and "concrete blocks or tree limbs," or any other devices that could cause a moving train to tip or derail.