Vigilance heightened at BWI after N.Y. plot is foiled

June 05, 2007|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,Sun reporter

Maryland Transportation Authority police increased patrols around fuel tanks at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport last weekend after authorities accused Islamic extremists of plotting to blow up a pipeline that runs through several states and into New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, said Cpl. Jonathan Green.

Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold said that after learning of the plot, which was in its infant stages, he instructed his director of emergency management, county police Lt. Thomas J. Wilson, to contact local airport officials and produce a report on the county's preparedness for a fuel-system attack.

The foiled attack in New York "heightened the awareness, and I want to make sure we are fully prepared," Leopold said yesterday.

Federal and New York authorities unraveled the group - composed of a U.S. citizen from Guyana and three accomplices in Trinidad - early on, as it sought the financing, knowledge and technology necessary to pull off its scheme from radical organizations abroad.

The group, however, had little capability to do widespread harm, and safeguards in the fuel system's design likely would have prevented an ignition in a JFK-based tank from rippling down the line and exploding neighborhoods, according to The New York Times.

Jonathan Dean, a BWI spokesman, would not elaborate on the local response but said that the airport has stepped up security since August, when London authorities uncovered an attempt to blow up planes traveling from the United Kingdom to the United States.

"We've been at the orange threat level for several months now, and with that particular designation, there have been increased security procedures in place," Dean said.

melissa.harris@baltsun.com

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