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Feds Warn Of Small Plane Terrorism Threat

PEMBROKE PINES (CBS4) - The FBI and Homeland Security have issued a nationwide warning about al-Qaida threats to small airplanes, just days before the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Authorities say there is no specific or credible terrorist threat for the 10-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. But they have stepped up security nationwide as a precaution.

According to a five-page law enforcement bulletin issued Friday, as recently as early this year, al-Qaida was considering ways to attack using small airplanes.

On its own – a small plane crashing into a building would probably not take it down.   Back in 2002 a teen crashed a plane into a sky scraper in downtown Tampa – the damage was relatively minor.  But if a small plane like this were loaded with explosives – it could deliver a powerful blast.

That's what has Homeland Security and others concerned.   "There are a lot of ways they could attack us," said concerned resident Mark Elliott. "That's one possibility."

Stewart Donaldson is a pilot with Bahamas Elite.  He flies out of Fort Lauderdale Executive airport.  He and the thousands of people who work and fly out of here are the first line of defense. Donaldson says the people who use this airport know who belongs and who doesn't.   He and others keep a close eye on what's going on here.

An example, a couple months ago, some men were taking pictures of planes.  In just moments – security was all over them after getting lots of calls. "It was odd from the standpoint that you saw guys taking pictures of every airplane, it wasn't just one or two random ones," recalled Donaldson.  "It looked off base, it looked out of place and that's all it took. "

Turns out – they were with an aviation club and they checked out.  The feds say as recently as earlier this year, terrorists were considering ways to use airplanes for attacks.  Now the hope is that all the safeguards in place can spot any possible trouble.   "I believe that our airport security, that people will do their jobs and protect us any way they can," said concerned resident Max Cherega.

The Department of Homeland Security says  there is no specific or credible threat out there right now. They say the main reason for this warning is simply for vigilance and awareness.


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