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FBI: How al Qaeda checks out sites

From Terry Frieden
CNN Washington Bureau

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI sent to state and local law enforcement officials Wednesday an "intelligence bulletin" designed to help police detect possible surveillance activities by al Qaeda-affiliated operatives.

The FBI told police to remain alert to several possible indicators of al Qaeda surveillance and report any suspicious activity to the nearest Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The indicators included:

• Unusual or prolonged interest in security measures or personnel, entry points and access controls, or perimeter barriers such as fences or walls

• Unusual behavior such as staring or quickly looking away from personnel or vehicles entering or leaving designated facilities or parking areas

• Observation of security reaction drills or procedures

• Increased anonymous telephone or e-mail threats to facilities in conjunction with suspected surveillance incidents, indicating possible surveillance of threat reaction procedures

• Foot surveillance involving two or three people working together

• Mobile surveillance using bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, cars, trucks, sport utility vehicles, boats, or small aircraft

• Prolonged static surveillance using operatives disguised as panhandlers, demonstrators, shoe shiners, food or flower vendors, news agents, or street sweepers not previously seen in the area

• Discreet use of still cameras, video recorders or note-taking at non-tourist locations

• Use of multiple sets of clothing, identifications, or the use of sketching materials

• Questioning of security or facility personnel

The FBI sent the information on a routine basis Wednesday through law enforcement channels. It said the information was not prompted by any specific event or intelligence.

FBI headquarters usually sends such bulletins, which reflect the general concerns of top FBI and counterterrorism officials in Washington, to police agencies on a weekly basis.

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