While counter-terrorism officials say they do not believe the plot got beyond the initial phase, warnings have been issued to transportation officials in all 50 states.
News of the potential threat spread on a day of remembrance at Ground Zero.
On Thursday night, top security officials at the transit system in New York as well as at the CTA and Metra in Chicago were warned of an al-Qaida plot to attack train lines. The scheme intended to kill hundreds on the upcoming anniversary of 9/11.
On Thursday night, the transit system in New York along with top security officials at the CTA and Metra in Chicago are being warned of an Al Qaeda plot to attack train lines-a scheme intended to kill hundreds on the upcoming anniversary of 9/11.
Train services providers across the nation were given this bulletin from Homeland Security:
"As of February 2010, al-Qaida was allegedly contemplating conducting an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001. As one option, al-Qaida was looking into trying to tip a train by tampering with the rails so that the train would fall off the track at either a valley or a bridge."
"You can't guard hundreds of miles of track. And if they can get to one location that is not well guarded and put explosives on it or do something to cause the train to derail, that's a lot easier than going after an aircraft," said Richard Clarke, ABC News consultant.
The information is fresh. It was found in paperwork or computer hard drives taken by Navy SEALs during Sunday's Pakistan raid on the compound where Osama bin Laden lived and died. There were schematic diagrams and website links found in bin Laden's records that provided authorities with evidence of a transit plot in the making, confirming that he was still approving terrorist plans just like 9/11.
After federal authorities briefed Chicago-area transit officials on the threat, CTA said it is on a "heightened state of vigilance," and Amtrak said it will "employ appropriate counter measures as and when necessary."
"There are still going to be threats out there," said President Barack Obama.
Obama referred to the continuing menace Thursday afternoon while speaking with New York City police who were first to arrive on 9/11. The president also had lunch with firefighters who lost 15 colleagues on 9/11, placed a wreath at ground zero and then met with the family members of Sept. 11 victims.
The safety and security of our system is a top priority at CTA. The CTA continually communicates with the appropriate local and federal agencies to stay abreast of any developments that could affect or impact bus and rail service. Earlier this week, the CTA re-issued security bulletins, reminding employees of what activities to look for and what steps to take should they encounter any suspicious or criminal activity during the course of their duties. We also continue to make announcements reminding our customers that vigilance and awareness of their surroundings is an important part of our efforts and encourage them to report any unusual or suspicious activity to 9-1-1 or to CTA personnel. Our staff remains on a heightened state of vigilance and we will continue to be in contact with authorities.
CTA Media Relations
Amtrak received the TSA advisory. Furthermore, there are several members of the Amtrak Police Department assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the country. As such, we are immediately privy to any intelligence with respect to threats against rail. Amtrak employees remain at a heightened state of vigilance and we will employ appropriate countermeasures as and when necessary.
Media Relations Manager
Amtrak Government Affairs
& Corporate Communications
Metra says they are aware of this and will continue to monitor. Their security team is has been in contact with tsa and homeland security. They have been at a heightened security since 9/11 and with bin laden's death they took additional security measures. They will stay at that level which includes some behind the scenes action as well as things people will see like officers being visible. They also hope that passengers tell personnel anything they spot that seems out of ordinary.