The FBI is searching for the person who threatened more than half a dozen commercial airline flights Monday. Anonymous phone calls led to searches at several major airports, including New York, Boston and Newark.
A law enforcement source told CBS News there were about 10 threats made to various airlines, saying bombs and chemical weapons were onboard numerous flights, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues. The threats were not credible, but still had an impact on air travelers at some of the nation's busiest airports.
Four hours after Air France Flight 22 took off from Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris, state police in Maryland received an anonymous phone call. Police said around 6:30 a.m. Monday "the caller made a bomb threat involving commercial aviation."
The FBI and NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, were alerted and two fighter jets were scrambled from Massachusetts to respond.
F-15 fighter jets escorted Flight 22 to JFK, and the plane with 170 passengers aboard was searched and cleared.
"They just said stay calm. The police were going to sort everyone out," a passenger said.
The threats resulted in searches of six international flights. A Saudi Arabian airlines flight was also searched at JFK. So were three flights at Newark Liberty International Airport, and one at Boston's Logan International Airport. All the searches came up empty. Investigators believe the same individual is responsible for placing several phone calls, made in quick succession to law enforcement around the country. Although the threats are not credible, investigators are trying to hunt down the suspect.
"Law enforcement has to respond, and we have to respond vigorously," security analyst and former ATF special agent Matthew Horace said.
"They are gonna try and determine where the call came from and if they can do that, they are going to send out people to knock on doors and shake trees until they can locate an individual who might be responsible," Horace said.
The FBI said the searches were all done out of an abundance of caution. The bureau is always concerned that in cases like these, the culprit feeds off the publicity. A conviction typically leads to 18 months in prison.