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Police Seize Rental Truck With TNT Traces

FNCMonday, May 13, 2002 A?Budget truck was pulled over in Oak Harbor, Washington last Tuesday?near the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and found to have traces of TNT on the gearshift and traces of RDX plastic explosive on the steering wheel, Fox News has learned.
The FBI,?the Immigration and Naturalization Service,?the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and local police are all investigating.

Shortly after midnight?on May 7,?federal officials say local police pulled the vehicle over for speeding. Documents read to?Fox?News indicate that the driver and passenger told local police they were delivering furniture from California but that authorities doubted the story because of the early morning hour.

A?bomb-sniffing dog first detected explosives on one of the men and inside the truck. High tech equipment was used later to confirm the presence of TNT?and RDX plastic explosive.

Documents read to Fox News indicate that both driver and passenger were Israeli nationals. Investigators say a roadside check of the national database of immigration records indicated that one of the men had not entered the country legally, and the other was in violation of his visa. Both men were taken into custody for immigration violations.

At 7:30 that morning local police were notified that the BATF and FBI had tested the truck and found traces of explosives on the steering wheel and gear shift.

Officials say no other charges of been filed against the driver and passenger and an investigation is ongoing.

Authorities say records for the?Budget truck do not indicate any recent rental for the purposes of transporting explosives, which would require special permits.

reposted relevant story 13.May.2002 22:58

mussed coif

FBI Fury As Men With Nuke Plans,
Valid ISRAELI Passports Escape
By Katty Kay
The Times, London
11-2-01

WASHINGTON - With America on top security alert, the FBI was hunting
yesterday for six men of Middle Eastern appearance carrying plans of a
nuclear power plant and the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline who were picked
up by police in the Midwest over the weekend but then released.

The incident is thought to be connected with the latest FBI alert and
senior intelligence officials are furious that the men were set free
before they could be fully questioned.

The men were travelling in two groups of three in white saloon cars
when they were pulled over by police officers in the Midwest,
according to the Knight Ridder News Service. Security officials have
refused to disclose further details.

The men were searched and questioned and the state officers discovered
detailed plans and photographs of a nuclear power plant in Florida,
along with box cutters-the weapons used in the September 11 attacks-
and other equipment.

The men, who appeared to be of Middle Eastern origin and held Israeli
passports, were then interviewed by immigration officials. When their
passports and visas were found to be in order the officers, who were
not aware of the country's imminent security alert, let the men go
without first calling in the FBI to question them more thoroughly.

It is not clear why the men were pulled over in the first place nor
why intelligence officers were not given a chance to interview them.
Agents suspect that the men will by now have switched cars and tried
to flee the country, possibly to Canada.

Intelligence officials were especially concerned about the nuclear
plant details. America's nuclear facilities received special attention
in the latest FBI alert. The men were also carrying plans of the
800-mile Trans-Alaska pipeline, which delivers 17 per cent of
America's oil.

There are three nuclear facilities in Florida, which have now been
advised to step up security. One of the plants has called in local
police as an extra security precaution.

The news came as the US banned private flights near US nuclear
facilities for the next ten days, in connection with the warning of
another terrorist attack, and National Guard troops were deployed at
nuclear power plants in three southern states. The Nuclear Regulatory
Commission ordered the nation's 103 nuclear power plants to increase
security.

At a time when police have unprecedented powers to arrest and detain
people who are merely suspected of having links to terrorist
activities, the release of these six men has infuriated the FBI.

The incident suggests a dangerous lack of co-ordination between
different law enforcement bodies. Under America's new anti-terrorist
laws, police can hold someone almost indefinitely on charges of being
a "material witness" to terrorism. Canada announced that it had given
the US important intelligence about another possible imminent
terrorist attack. Canadian secret services intercepted telephone calls
and e-mails from al-Qaeda operatives in Canada that referred to a
major event taking place "down south" this week.

Law enforcement officials said that the US military intercepted
numerous other calls leading up to the alert, which all used the same
coded phrases. The FBI received intelligence about the new threat on
Monday.