Feds Get July 4 Nuclear Plant Threat
W A S H I N G T O N, May 13 — U.S. intelligence officials have received threats that terrorists will strike a U.S. nuclear power plant July 4, and are reviewing the information to determine whether it is reliable.
The government is taking the threats seriously, though officials have preliminarily determined that the information is not credible enough to act upon, said a government official familiar with the investigation.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the alleged plot to attack on America's celebration of independence is one of scores of threats filtering through U.S. intelligence and is not considered serious enough to formally warn the American public or change the nuclear industry's already high level of alert.
"We will continue to assess the information, however," the source said.
The threat received last week suggested that an unidentified Islamic terrorist group is planning to attack the Three Mile Island nuclear facility in Pennsylvania or another plant elsewhere in the Northeast, the source said.
The Washington Times first reported the threat.
—The Associated Press
3 Million Truckers Enlisted to Guard America
W A S H I N G T O N, May 13 — The trucking industry plans to enlist 3 million of its drivers in the war on terrorism.
Industry officials said Monday that employees would be trained to spot suspicious activities that could indicate a potential terrorist attack. They would be given a toll-free number to call to report anything out of the ordinary, with the information forwarded to law enforcement agencies.
The drivers would be asked to monitor bridges, highways, tunnels and ports, and fellow truckers as well, said an announcement by the Trucking Security Working Group, a coalition of trade associations.
"The trucking industry wants to make a contribution to national security and the war on terrorism," said Mike Russell, a spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, lead organization in the coalition. "We think this proposal makes the best use of what we do every day, and that is travel across America, keeping our eyes on what is going on."
There has been concern that terrorists could use a truck hauling gasoline or other hazardous materials to kill thousands of people, the way hijackers turned four airliners into flying bombs on Sept. 11.
CIA official Robert Walpole told the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in March that terrorist groups or rogue nations were less likely to fire a missile at the United States than to use trucks, ships or planes to deliver chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
State transportation officials have stepped up surveillance of bridges and tunnels and have begun training maintenance workers on what to look for.
Last week, the Transportation Department's inspector general said there were insufficient federal and state safeguards to stop would-be terrorists from illegally obtaining commercial truck driver's licenses.
—The Associated Press
U.S. Man Eyed in Afghan Assassination
U.S. man's letter tied to Afghan death-report
W A S H I N G T O N, May 13 — U.S. officials believe that a letter partially drafted by U.S. postal worker now in custody may have had a role in the death of an Afghan resistance leader, the Washington Post reported on today.
U.S. authorities believe that Ahmed Abdel Sattar, 42, helped write a letter of introduction for two men who posed as journalists to kill Gen. Ahmed Shah Massoud in northern Afghanistan last fall, the Post said.
Sattar, an Egyptian-born U.S. citizen, has not been charged in Massoud's murder on Sept. 9, 2001. But a conversation in the summer of 2001 about the letter surfaced during a wiretap involving Sattar, who is charged with serving as a communications center for an Egyptian terrorist group allegedly directed by Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman from his U.S prison cell, the Post reported.
Abdel-Rahman was convicted in 1995 of plotting to blow up New York landmarks, including the World Trade Center.
U.S. authorities believe that Massoud was killed as a pre-emptive strike in advance of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon two days later that killed more than 3,000 people, the newspaper said.
Another Egyptian man who allegedly helped draft the letter, Yassir Sirri, has been charged by Britain with conspiring to kill Massoud. Sirri has denied any involvement in Massoud's death, the Post reported.
"It's clear that this was a letter for these two guys [Massoud's killers]," an official, who asked not to be named, told the Post. "But how much Sattar knew about the mission isn't clear."
Sattar, a 13-year veteran of the U.S. Post office, earned $40,000 per year working at the main post office in Staten Island, N.Y. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
According to Sattar's indictment, an Islamic Group leader asked him to help expand the group's presence in the United States three years ago. The group has taken responsibility for the 1997 massacre at Luxor, Egypt, in which 58 tourists and four Egyptian security guards were hacked and shot to death.
Since his arrest on April 9, Sattar has not been allowed a visit from his family or a telephone call, the Post said.