U.S. officials advise how to stop terrorist takeover of schools
Bulletin prompted by last month's siege of Russian school in Beslan
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security sent a bulletin to local law enforcement and homeland security officials Wednesday advising schools how to stop a terrorist takeover similar to that of a Russian school in North Ossetia last month.
A Homeland Security official said that an edited version of the bulletin has been disseminated by the Department of Education to education officials around the country.
The bulletin cautions that, "There is no imminent threat to U.S. schools and the group that conducted the operation has never attacked or threatened to attack U.S. interests." It adds that the FBI and DHS are "currently unaware of any specific, credible information indicating a terrorist threat to public and private schools, universities or colleges in the United States."
It adds, however, that the high casualty rate at the school in the city of Beslan -- more than 300 killed -- and the extensive media coverage it generated "warrant a summary of lessons learned" and "protective measure guidance for helping to prevent and respond to a similar terrorist attack were it to occur in the United States."
A Homeland Security official said that the bulletin was "based on tactics, not threats" and that similar informational bulletins have been issued after other major terrorists attacks overseas, such as the Madrid train bombings last March.
The protective measures recommended in the bulletin include installing security locking mechanisms for all external and internal doors and windows, retrofitting structural enhancements in safe areas that could be used for assembly and refuge during crises, and protective coatings for windows on facilities that face high traffic areas.
The bulletin also outlines possible indicators that a school is being cased or is under surveillance.