FBI Agents On Scene At Downtown Boston Hotel
Car, Evidence Seized From Logan Airport
BOSTON, 1:03 p.m. EDT September 12, 2001 -- SWAT Teams have arrived at the Westin Copley Hotel in downtown Boston, dressed in bullet-proof vests and accompanied by ambulances.
Sources have told NewsCenter 5 that the FBI has identified at least 12 suspects in the World Trade Center and Pentagon terrorist attacks and have been preparing to make arrests.
Sources are telling NewsCenter 5 that Middle Eastern men who boarded the two planes bound for New York Tuesday bought one-way tickets and paid in cash, and there may be a connection to Springfield, Mass., which could link them to the USS Cole bombing.
NewsCenter 5's David Boeri reported Wednesday morning that sources say at least four suspects, described as Middle Eastern men, arrived late to the airport, purchased one-way tickets and paid in cash for them, all of those factors being known security risk flags.
He said security personnel are trained to question late-arriving passengers who pay in cash for tickets. Two of the suspects had first-class tickets and another had a seat in coach. There appears to have been two teams consisting of a total of five to six men.
Sources are also telling NewsCenter 5 that two of the men arrived from Maine, taking the Yarmouth ferry. Wednesday morning the Portland, Maine police chief, Michael Chitwood, confirmed that two individuals did board a plane from Portland to Boston early Tuesday morning.
Chitwood said that Portland police also impounded a car that may have been driven by the men. He described it as a rental car, a Blue Nissan Altima, that has been sent to the state police crime lab in Augusta, Maine.
Sources also said that the white Mitsubishi the investigators impounded at Logan had been traveling between Logan and Springfield, Mass., in recent days.
Boeri reports that investigators say there is a known connection between groups in Springfield and the plotting of the USS Cole bombing last year.
Boston FBI Chief Charles Prouty would not confirm those reports at a Wednesday morning news conference at Logan, saying only that the FBI, together with numerous other federal agencies, is aggressively investigating the case.
Asked about security breaches at the airport, Logan Aviation Director Thomas Kinton said that while MassPort runs the airport, the individual airlines are responsible for hiring security companies and personnel.
"There are a number of airline requirements in accordance with FAA regulations," Kinton said. "Security checkpoints are the responsibility of the air carrier ... we are [now] taking that extra step of going to the security checkpoints and looking at those issues going forward, as to whether [security workers] should be federal employees, or employees of law enforcement, or airline employees."
Sources also said that documents were found inside luggage in the Mitsubishi Mirage that had Virginia license plates, including an information manual in Arabic on how to fly a 767 and a copy of the Koran and a fuel consumption calculator.
The suspects also reportedly had airport employee ramp badges and crew uniforms, which were left in a suitcase that did not make it onto the plane.
The car was moved to an out-of-town FBI garage for processing last night.
NewsCenter 5's Janet Wu says that the rental car was in and out of the central parking garage several times in the past week. An airline crew identification tag was found in or around the car that may be connected to one of the suspects, WCVB reports. The crew tag ramp pass, which allows employees access to the airport, may be for either United Airlines or American Airlines.
Investigators in Boston are looking for members of a local terrorist group affiliated with Osama bin Laden.
The Boston Herald reported Wednesday that five Arab men, including one who was a trained pilot, are being identified as suspects.
While the FBI has refused to comment on any possible suspects, a number of past reports link Boston-area members to bin Laden's terrorist organization.
In February, the Boston Globe reported on a pair of former taxi drivers investigated for their alleged involvement with terrorist plots financed by bin Laden.
Another former cabbie -- Raed Hijazi -- lived in Everett, Mass., for several years and was sentenced to death just last year in Jordan for plotting a terrorist attack.
There also are two Boston residents counted as members of a Montreal-based bin Laden cell. Authorities intercepted that group before it could set off a millennium bomb in the U.S.
American Flight 11 from Boston was hijacked after takeoff from Logan Airport en route to Los Angeles Tuesday morning and later crashed into the World Trade Center. Ninety-two people were on board, including the pilot, John Ogonowski, 52, of Dracut, Mass.
United Airlines officials said that Flight 175, bound from Boston to Los Angeles, also crashed into the World Trade Center.