Bridge Terror Plots & Patsies

Title: Terrorists Plotted Against Brooklyn Bridge Before 9/11

Date: April 27, 2012
CBS New York

Abstract: Before they wanted the Twin Towers, terrorists may have been eyeing the Brooklyn Bridge.

Newly revealed files from Guantanamo Bay show 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told an underling to cut the cables on the Brooklyn Bridge. Terrorists were also taught bridge destruction methods at various training camps.

One law enforcement source said a determined terrorist could cut through thinner suspension cables on the Brooklyn Bridge with a power saw in about fifteen minutes, WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane reported.

New York City police commissioner Ray Kelly tells the New York Timessuch a scheme was doable. Security has since been tightened on the span, along with other New York City landmarks.

“I think NYPD has done a great job in terms of building up its intelligence capabilities, its preventative actions,” says CBS News National Security Analyst Juan Zarate. “That said, all you need is one terrorist to succeed and you’ve got major questions and problems on your hands.”

Preventing an attack requires gathering good intelligence about terrorists overseas, securities expert Bob Strang at Investigative Management Group. Gathering that intelligence has become trickier as relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan have frayed, according to Strang.

“We’re losing the relationships with some of these countries that were so strong just a few years ago and when we have to take our manpower, our resources, and our intelligence network out of these countries, that leaves a big gap,” Strang told Murnane (CBS New York, 2012).

Title: Brooklyn Bridge Was Al-Qaida Terror Target
Date: April 27, 2011

Abstract:  A long-standing plot by 
al-Qaidato take down the Brooklyn Bridge was revealed by classified documents obtained by the New York Times.

 Interviews with Guantanamo detainees revealed they were actively training in Middle East camps to cut cables on the 130-year-old suspension bridge, causing it to crash into the East River -- bring commercial traffic headed into the New York harbor to a halt. 

"It's confirmed. Because we know directly from people in on the plot, they were trying to take down the Brooklyn Bridge," said Robert Strang, a security expert and former co-chair of the 9-11 taskforce.
Even though the reports come from interviews conducted in 2006, Strang says the threats are not weakening over time.  Worse, our intelligence coming out of countries like Afghanistan and 
Pakistan, which used to be robust, has dried up over the last 6-12 months. 

Strang elaborated, "We know that they train in camps in the Middle East. They are taught to come here, fund themselves, recruit others and commit these kinds of terrorist acts."

The NYPD hired a security expert to evaluate the vulnerabilities of the bridge, and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly did his own inspection.  Inspectors found that there are places to stay out of public view, and in a relatively short period of time cut through the suspension cables and compromise the bridge. 

In response, the Brooklyn Bridge has become one of the most protected of the terror targets. Police cars sit on both ends if the bridge. A police boat patrols the footings of the bridge in the East River. Those efforts were rewarded when intelligence found Al Qaeda operatives in the U.S. sent back a message: it's too difficult to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge now. 

City College's Professor of Civil Engineering Anil Agrawal says the bridge was built for use, not to thwart a terror plot. 

"They need to protect the towers, the cables and the anchorage points. Nothing is destruction proof. And the bigger issue is a combination of factors, like improper loading of the bridge and high winds can really lead to problems" (WPIX News, 2012).

Title: 5 Arrested For Allegedly Trying To Blow Up Ohio Bridge
Date: May 1, 2012
Fox News

Abstract: Five people described as anarchists were arrested Monday in a Cleveland-area park for allegedly trying to blow up a bridge, sources tell Fox News.      

The public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were inoperable and controlled by an undercover FBI employee, according to sources close to the investigation. 

A criminal complaint was filed Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Cleveland. Court documents say three of the suspects are self-proclaimed anarchists who formed a small group and considered a series of plots over several months.

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, Steven M. Dettelbach, said Tuesday that the defendants "took numerous and repeated acts that demonstrated a commitment to violent, terrorist acts." 

According to the complaint, the suspects initially planned to use smoke grenades to distract law enforcement so that they could topple financial institution signs atop high-rise buildings in Cleveland. However, the plot later called for C-4 explosives contained in two improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, to be placed and remotely detonated, according to authorities. 

The final plan allegedly named the Route 82 Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge, which crosses from Brecksville to Sagamore Hills, as the designated target. The IED drop location was reportedly under the bridge on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail near the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Brecksville Station. 

The suspects were identified Tuesday as Brandon Baxter, 20; Anthony Hayne, 35; Joshua Stafford, 23; Connor Stevens, 20; and Douglas Wright, 26, Fox affiliate WJW-TV reported.    

Baxter, Hayne and Wright were arrested Monday night by members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on charges of conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce, according to the station.

"The safety of the citizens of the Northern District of Ohio is and continues to be our primary focus," Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Cleveland Division of the FBI, said in a statement Tuesday.

"The individuals charged in this plot were intent on using violence to express their ideological views. The Joint Terrorism Task Force will continue to be vigilant in its efforts to detect and disrupt any terrorism threat, domestic or international," Anthony said. 

It is unknown if the bridge incident was connected to Occupy Wall Street's plans for nationwide protests Tuesday (Fox News, 2012).