CNN BREAKING NEWS
More Details on Alleged Al Qaeda Airplane Plot Emerge
Aired July 29, 2003 - 16:21 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: We want to move you back, now, if you'll rock and roll with us a little bit, to Jeanne Meserve, where -- I'm sorry we interrupted you, Jeanne, for that. But want to get back to you.
What, as far as the U.S. knows, was being planed?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, they believe that there may have been attempted hijackings planned, at least one of them to be executed before the end of this summer. The advisory that was sent out says that as far as the U.S. knows, no equipment or operatives had been deployed to conduct the operations.
There was particular concern in this advisory about passengers who are transiting the U.S. And so in the advisory, airlines are advised to pay particular attention to security around those passengers who, under current regulations, are not required to have visas and they come into the U.S. to wait for their flight to travel on to other countries. Other security precautions, I'm told, are being taken at airports around the country. Officials aren't being specific about what those are because they don't want to provide any sort of blueprints for the terrorists.
But to recap some of the highlights here, attack venues could include the East Coast of the United States, also United Kingdom, Italy or Australia -- a belief that this hijacking scenario could involve five men, crews that would try to take power of an aircraft either on takeoff or as it landed. The possibility that they might use commonly carried items like camera, modified as weapons. And also a comment in here that they may try to persuade passengers that they were dealing with a pass -- rather, a hostage sort of situation rather than an aircraft as weapons situation. Clearly here they want to try to prevent passengers from rising up against the terrorists, as they did on United Flight 93 back on September 11 -- Candy.
CROWLEY: Boy. Holy cow.
One of the things, I guess, that immediately comes to mind is, do they take it seriously enough to maybe raise -- or are they thinking about raising the threat level? I mean, how serious is this?
MESERVE: They are not at this point contemplating raising the threat level. It remains exactly where it has been, at threat level yellow. They are still evaluating the credibility of this information. Earlier in the day we talked to some officials who characterized it as dubious. But in more recent conversations, one official ranked it as a six or seven on a credibility scale of 10.
So they are looking at this quite seriously. Obviously, one of the intentions in putting out this advisory beyond alerting the airline industry to be on their tiptoes is to let the potential hijackers know that they're on to whatever they might be planning in hopes of short circuiting what they might have in mind.
CROWLEY: CNN's homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve. Thank you so much for the new news, Jeanne.
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