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CNN BREAKING NEWS

FBI Confiscates Three Bags From Two Southwest Airlines Flights

Aired October 17, 2003 - 12:15   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're following up on a breaking story we're covering this hour, two Southwest Airlines flights with some suspicious material found aboard last night. Investigators are looking into this.
I want to bring in our national security correspondent, David Ensor. He's joining us now live from Washington.

David -- you've been doing some checking of your own. What exactly have you learned?

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the FBI is investigating baggage that was left under seats on two Southwest Airlines flights Thursday night, government officials have told CNN's Kelli Arena.

In one bag, a clay substance was found, in another there were box cutters, and in another there was suspicious bleach. There was at least one note in one of the bags suggesting security was not as tight as it should be. In fact, there were three bags on each of the flights that are suspicious. And on both flights there notes were left.

The flights landed, as you mentioned, in Houston and New Orleans. Investigators are telling us that the clay substance could have been a plastic explosive and the bleach could have been used to throw in someone's face to incapacitate them. And, of course, box cutters were used in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. So, that will be obvious as why those are suspicious.

As a precautionary measure, officials are telling CNN that the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration have directed that all commercial aircraft in the U.S. fleet are going to have to be searched by security personnel within the next 24 hours. An administration official is saying that there will now be more concerted sweeps of aircraft, and this official also described the note as indicating that this was not related to terrorism -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, is there any suggestion, though, that this was an act of terror?

ENSOR: No. In fact, CNN's Jeanne Meserve tells us that officials are saying to her that there are things in the evidence there that suggests to them this was not terrorism. This was someone trying to make a statement about the level of security, not a very -- a rather chilling one, we should probably say -- Wolf. BLITZER: Very chilling indeed, all of those materials potentially could be devastating. Thanks very much, David Ensor, for that. Thanks to Kelli Arena, thanks to Jeanne Meserve, our producer, Kevin Bond (ph). A lot of our reporters are working this story right now -- reporters and our producers. We'll get more information for our viewers as soon as it's made available. Thanks to all of you.

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