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Message says Navy facilities watched
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 02:41:57 -0500 (CDT)

http://washingtontimes.com/national/20011017-15863837.htm

By Rowan Scarborough
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
October 17, 2001

The Navy is investigating 11 incidents in which "Arab" or "Middle
Eastern" males appeared to be conducting surveillance of naval bases,
and, on one occasion, a truck loaded with munitions, according to an
internal message to commanders.

The Oct. 11 message from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service
(NCIS) recounts disturbing cases of suspicious activity around major
air bases and ports that could be the prelude to terrorist attacks. A
copy of the message was obtained by The Washington Times.
     
The document deals strictly with Navy facilities worldwide. But a
senior U.S. official said the armed forces are operating under the
assumption that Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network has
conducted surveillance of military installations belonging to all the
services in preparation for possible attacks.
      
The U.S. charges that bin Laden and al Qaeda executed the Sept. 11
attacks on New York and the Pentagon. The United States also has
accumulated evidence linking bin Laden to the suicide bomber attack on
the destroyer USS Cole that killed 17 sailors in a Yemen port. Bin
Laden has urged his army of terrorists to specifically attack American
military personnel.
     
What's more, defense sources say in recent years suspicious persons
were seen photographing the Pentagon in a methodical manner.
     
The Navy message states, "The report documents a collection of
incidents that remain under investigation but still has not been fully
mitigated. None of this information has been definitely linked to
pre-operational terrorist activity."
     
Among the incidents, both before and after the Sept. 11 attack:
    
A truck driver transporting ammunition and explosives from a naval
weapons center said a Middle Eastern man approached him at a truck
stop in Kentucky.
     
"Subject was observed looking the truck over, then asked the driver
where he was heading," the message states. "The truck driver did not
answer, and a white vehicle bearing Florida license plates followed
his truck for the remainder of the trip" to Hanover, Pa.
     
Some of the terrorists who executed the Sept. 11 attack lived and
trained in Florida.
     
The Island County, Wash., sheriff's office told of reports of
suspicious behavior by "three Arab males" who checked into a motel
near a major naval air station. The three drove a rented car. The name
on the rental agreement "did not match the name given by the driver to
the motel."
     
"Three Arabic males were reported acting in a suspicious manner and
possibly surveying [Naval Air Station] Whidbey Island [in
Washington]."
     
"The individuals were on the beach with fishing gear; however, [they]
did not do any fishing and their gear was not appropriate. The same
individuals had been ordered out of a restricted area of the park by
park rangers earlier in the day where they were observed videotaping
the Deception Pass Bridge."
     
A "Middle Eastern" man visited a county property assessment office and
got parcel maps of all private property surrounding the Whidbey
station.
     
Two males at an air show at the Willow Grove, Pa., Naval Air Station,
trained high-powered scopes on areas of the flight line closed to the
public. "The individuals were writing numbers in a notebook, which the
spectator believed to be tail numbers of various aircraft on the
flight line," the message says.
     
The suspicious activity was chronicled by NCIS' anti-terrorism task
force and sent to major commands around the world, including the
fleet. The reports were gleaned from hundreds of other sightings that
were judged inconsequential.
     
Lt. Cmdr. Cate Mueller, a Navy spokeswoman at the Pentagon, said the
reports "indicate there is increased security awareness and we are
looking at all the reports and cataloging and assessing them to
determine if there is a threat."
     
She added, "I'm not going to get into the specifics of any of the ones
discussed in the message."
     
Since Sept. 11, she said, the Navy has introduced "a number of
proactive measures to ensure the safety of our men and women and
equipment which is vital to our national security."
     
The Navy has been hit particularly hard by bin Laden's terrorists. In
addition to the 17 sailors killed on the Cole last year, one of the
hijacked airliners demolished the Navy's Pentagon command center,
killing 33 sailors and nine civilian employees.



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