WASHINGTON -- Some of the first information gleaned from Osama bin Laden's compound indicates al-Qaida considered attacking U.S. trains on the upcoming anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. But counterterrorism officials say they believe the planning never got beyond the initial phase and have no recent intelligence pointing to an active plot for such an attack.
As of February 2010, the terror organization was considering plans to attack the U.S. on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. One idea was to tamper with an unspecified U.S. rail track so that a train would fall off the track at a valley or a bridge, according to a joint FBI and Homeland Security bulletin sent to law enforcement officials around the country Thursday. The al-Qaida planners noted that if they attacked a train by tilting it, the plan would only succeed once because the tilting would be spotted the next time.
The warning, obtained by The Associated Press, was marked for "official use only."
Information on the train plot appears to be the first widely circulated intelligence pulled from the raid this week on bin Laden's secret compound in Pakistan. After killing the terror leader and four of his associates, Navy SEALs confiscated a treasure trove of computers, DVDs and documents from the home where U.S. officials think the al-Qaida chief had been hiding for up to six years.
Intelligence analysts have been reviewing and translating the material, looking for information about pending plots and other terror connections.
"While it is clear that there was some level of planning for this type of operation in February 2010, we have no recent information to indicate an active ongoing plot to target transportation and no information on possible locations or specific targets," the warning Thursday said.
The FBI and Homeland Security told local officials to be on the lookout for clips or spikes missing from train tracks, packages left on or near the tracks and other indications that a train could be vulnerable.
An official with the Association of American Railroads said the organization has received warnings from the federal government.