Security Boosted At U.S. Mass Transit Sites Over Holidays
Amid official preoccupation over terrorism in Europe and shadowy reports that the U.S. could be under an increased threat this summer, security has now been boosted at U.S. transit sites:
Some of the armed officers with dogs that turned up this week around airports, subways and bus stops are part of special Transportation Security Administration teams sent to protect mass transit sites over the July Fourth holiday.
The â€œVIPERâ€ teams were sent to guard facilities in the nationâ€™s capital and in Baltimore, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco, TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe said Tuesday.
â€œItâ€™s not just because of the attacks in England,â€ Howe said. â€œSome were planned this week anyway, but I wonâ€™t deny the English car bombs affected the decision.â€ She added, though, that there is â€œno credible, specific threat for the Fourth.â€
And the context is important. The Israel-based site Debka: says “counter-terror sources” in the U.S. gave the Czech government “specific warning” of large-scale al Qaeda terrorist attacks planned for Prague, “targeting government buildings, the US embassy, American firms and Jewish and Israel locations.” And, Debka contends, all American “missions and military facilities in Europe were placed on alert.:
…. al Qaedaâ€™s coded messages on internal forums announcing that preparations are now in place for attacks in the US during this summer are appearing with greater frequency than the traffic prior to the 2001 attacks in America and the 2004 Madrid rail bombings.
Security has been tightened at US airports and transport systems ahead of the Fourth of July holiday and New York stepped up security at airports, rail stations, tourist spots and crowd centers after the botched attacks in Britain.
[US homeland security secretary Michael] Chertoff spoke of increasing concerns about â€œthe movement of Europeans, including people with European citizenship, into areas of South Asia to get trained and get experience and then coming back to carry out operations in Europe or in the United States using Europe as a departure point.”
That would fit in with how terrorists operate: once officials are looking for threats coming from an area, shift to an area they don’t expect. Europeans would be harder to detect via official or unofficial profiling.