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FBI warns of suspicious blueprint requests

By John Bisney
CNN Washington

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI is asking architects and building engineers across the country to report any suspicious requests for building plans, especially for federal buildings and projects, according to two industry groups.

Since September 11, a number of design and engineering firms have contacted the American Institute of Architects and National Society of Professional Engineers, telling the organizations about unusual unusual requests for blueprints. These requests came both before and after the attacks, the organizations said.

The inquiries included plans for structures such as airport terminals and towers, federal office buildings, parking garages and museums, said Phil Simon, a spokesman for the architects' institute. The subjects requested, and the details cited, concerned the institute, he said.

Both organizations alerted the FBI, then sent a joint letter to their members. "The FBI is advising us to heighten our awareness," says the letter, which asks members to notify the nearest FBI bureau field office of any unusual requests.

Some requests may be innocent -- students requesting blueprints for their studies, for example -- but the FBI's concerns are reasonable, said one federal official. The official, while not familiar with the letter, noted that federal agencies have advised a wide array of industries to be vigilant for possible terrorist activity.

The deputy commissioner of the Public Buildings Service at the General Services Administration also signed the letter.

The GSA is responsible for the operation of all federal buildings. A request for plans involving a GSA building, the letter says, should be sent to the Federal Protective Service. The three organizations have also developed a report form that can be downloaded for professionals needing to document such requests.






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