Bin Laden's 'wish list' has Chicago officials on alert

May 6, 2011 8:08:24 PM PDT
U.S. authorities are examining a "treasure trove" of documents of al-Qaida plans and ideology found in Osama bin Laden''s compound.

In this Intelligence Report: The terror group's wish list is causing authorities in Chicago to increase security.

Law enforcement agencies in the Chicago area are on high alert after U.S. intelligence analysts discovered Chicago on the list of possible targets for an al-Qaida attack on the tenth anniversary of Sept. 11.

The list -- possibly handwritten by Osama bin Laden -- is a playbook that targets water systems, power plants and local rail systems.

Friday at Fort Campbell in Kentucky President Barack Obama met with the "full assault force" that executed Sunday's raid and killed Osama bin Laden.

"The terrorist leader who struck our nation on 9/11 will never threaten America again," the president said.

The raid on bin Laden's compound produced an intelligence mother lode-- what amounts to al- Qaida's playbook, Osama bin Laden's detailed plans for an attack on the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11.

Those plans included derailing of mass transit trains by obstructing the tracks. On the target list: New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Chicago.

"With all due respect, why would he target Peoria? Nobody would pay much attention to Peoria," said DePaul University professor M. Cherif Bassiouni. "On the other hand, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, these are major cities."

Also discovered in the compound is a manifesto that appears to show al-Qaida hoped to recruit minorities and spark class warfare, leadership lists, and details about safe houses around the world.

While U.S. authorities say the seized material will take weeks to analyze, they stress that the plans for rail attacks were not imminent.

"(Chicago is) an attractive target for terrorists," said Rep. Bobby Rush, (D)-Chicago.

Friday ,at the opening of a new South Side Metra stop, Congressman Rush wasn't surprised Chicago was in bin Laden's crosshairs.

"We knew that in the mind of that madman, Chicago was preeminent in his mind, and praise be to God, he was never able to fulfill his desire and execute his plans," Rush said.

Metra officials say they have upped rail security and are in daily contact with Homeland Security.

"It's definitely a concern," said Metra spokesperson Judy Pardonnet. "We're taking every precaution we can, but we need those eyes and ears, we need people to be vigilant too because that's our first defense."

The al-Qaida derailment threat has Metra officials concerned enough that they are reviewing past unsolved incidents, including one in 2007 where somebody removed almost three dozen metal spikes from a section of track on the South Side that could have caused a derailment. While the FBI considers it an active case -- despite a reward -- no arrests have been made.

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