ABC News has learned that the Department of Homeland Security has alerted U.S. mass transit officials to "suspicious videotaping" of European rail systems that point to a continuing terrorist interest in targeting mass transit and "possible surveillance or pre-operational planning."
According to a short unclassified infrastructure security "private sector note" released Tuesday, May 2nd, DHS says a 17 minute hand held videotape by one foreign national detained in November in a major European city included footage of several stations, two routes and the interior of one "subway car." None of the footage was of tourist attractions. Information from a second suspicious videotaping, also in November 2005, was factored into the one page private sector note.
"Two incidents of suspicious videotaping of a European mass transit system in the last 120 days provide indications of continued terrorist interest in mass transit systems as targets, and potentially useful insight into terrorist surveillance techniques," DHS said.
The contents of the 17 minute tape that appeared suspicious included the recording of station signs from inside a moving train, shooting footage of the rail car and station platform ceilings and recording trash can and stairwell locations. This footage seems to mesh with known techniques and elements of prior casing reports of planned and executed terrorist plots including the London bombing and plots against the New York City subway system.
The Department of Homeland Security stresses that there is no specific or credible threat information at this time to suggest an an attack on U.S. rail systems, a spokesman said.