American intelligence analysts are seeking an example of the handwriting of Osama bin Laden to see if it matches the handwritten document discovered in his compound that discusses a possible attack on American train lines, according to people briefed on the process.
The document was among the first pieces of evidence translated from Arabic by the CIA-FBI analysts obtained in the Navy SEAL raid because it did not require the decoding that the seized computer discs and hard drives will, according to those briefed.
"The read-out from the electronic media will take much longer," said one person.
Analysts said the proposed rail plot was dated in February, 2010 and indicates a "low-tech" sabotage operation using trees and cement blocks was being considered, suggesting al Qaeda concluded it would be difficult to obtain explosives.
A bulletin issued Thursday by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security and obtained by ABC News said al Qaeda considered conducting the train attack on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
"As of February 2010, al-Qa'ida was allegedly contemplating conducting an operation against trains at an unspecified location in the United States on the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001," the document reads, using an alternate spelling for bin Laden's terror group. "As one option, al-Qa'ida 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."
In a statement, DHS press secretary Matt Chandler stressed that the message it sent out to its rail partners about a potential al Qaeda plot was "based on initial reporting, which is often misleading and inaccurate and subject to change. We remain at a heightened state of vigilance, but do not intend to issue [a National Terrorism Advisory System] alert at this time." Chandler said the Transportation Security Administration would also send a bulletin to its rail sector stakeholders.
"We have no information of any imminent terrorist threat to the U.S. rail sector, but wanted to make our partners aware of the alleged plotting," said Chandler.