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8 arrested at two NYC airports in security crackdown

NEW YORK (CNN) -- One U.S. official told CNN that there may have been another hijacking attempt that was thwarted Thursday by increased security at New York's two major airports.

At least eight people were arrested Thursday at John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, law enforcement sources said, including four who previously were challenged at one of the airports on Tuesday, the day terrorists commandeered four other planes.

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The suspects were taken into custody for carrying fake documentation -- including one man carrying a phony pilot's license -- and immigration issues, the sources said.

All had booked open-ended tickets, meaning there was no return date -- "raising a red flag" on a day of heightened airport security, one source said.

They were being questioned by FBI members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

All suspects were booked as passengers on flights from Kennedy or LaGuardia airports on Thursday, the sources said. At Kennedy, one had gotten onto a plane and two others -- including the man with the phony pilot's license -- were taken into custody at a pilot's lounge.

Asked if this was seen as another hijacking attempt, one U.S. official said, "Certainly, this is being looked at -- that a hijacking was thwarted. There is concern in our office that this may have been another attempt.

The sources did not specify what immigration offenses may have been involved in the arrests.

Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports were all shut down late Thursday as part of a security groundstop. The temporary groundstop at the three airports was imposed around 5:30 p.m. Incoming flights were allowed to land, but takeoffs were halted.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced that Washington's Reagan National Airport will remain closed "for the time being."

This decision was made "due to the airport's proximity to key federal installations in the Washington, D.C., area including the Pentagon," one of the targets of the hijackers.

Northwest Airlines grounded all its flights nationwide because "external information has come to Northwest's attention that indicates that it is not prudent to fly this evening." The airline is resuming flights Friday.

The arrest of the man allegedly posing as a pilot was announced earlier by New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik.

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