Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Baltimore Tunnel Threat

Are we seeing NYC Subway Terror Threat redux? Possibly, but who knows. The local law enforcement isn't taking any chances and closed down one of the harbor tunnels:
The Baltimore Harbor Tunnel was closed while the Fort McHenry Tunnel was partially closed, with one lane of traffic moving in each direction, said Lt. Col. David Franklin of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police. The closures began about 11:30 a.m.

"We received some information a couple of days ago with a possible threat to a tunnel, nothing specific. We are interviewing people as we speak," said Carla McIntosh, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Baltimore. She said she could not give details.

Jim Pettit, a spokesman for the governor's homeland security office, said: "We're acting out of an abundance of caution."

A federal law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the threat was phoned in to authorities by a person claiming to have information from abroad. Authorities are skeptical of the claim, but are checking it out nonetheless, the official said.

Michelle Malkin has updates.

The tunnels have been reopened to traffic.

Some are wondering if there is a connection. I'm wondering where the rest of the media is on this story. Again, a situation where people are potentially put in harms' way and the media snoozes. We have an apparent threat made, a major transportation link shut down and then reopened, and now there's word that there are two people being held and a third person is being sought. The people are somehow connected to a Middle Eastern Market in Baltimore located near the tunnels.

Jeff Quinton has more details on the Koko Middle Eastern market angle.

CNN has updated their coverage:
The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are looking for at least six men they were told are part of the alleged plot, U.S. officials said. The original source of the intelligence said those involved were Egyptian, but officials did not confirm the nationalities of those being sought.

A federal government official said the source of the threat intelligence has provided some useful information in the past. But Perkins said agents were interviewing "certain individuals in an effort to determine the credibility of the information."

According to multiple U.S. officials, the Baltimore alert was triggered by a report that a shipment of explosives was heading into the city's harbor disguised as cocoa. The explosives then would have been used to build a truck bomb to be detonated inside the tunnel, the officials said.
WBAL has more news, including police investigating the storeowner of the previously mentioned Koko Market.
WBAL-TV 11 News reporter David Collins reported that the FBI is questioning Majed Hussein, an Egyptian, who owns the KOKO Market in the 6000 block of Eastern Avenue in Baltimore's Highlandtown neighborhood.

According to neighbors of the store, the FBI arrived at about 11:30 a.m., and three hours later, they left with Hussein and a brown paper bag. The Baltimore Sun reported he is being questioned in connection with a threat that involved the Baltimore tunnels.

Collins said the KOKO Market has been a fixture in this neighborhood for several years, offering international money transfers, MoneyGrams and lottery tickets.

Many neighbors said they are surprised that the FBI appeared to be interested in Hussein, known to many people simply as "Mike."

"He's a very nice guy, I've known him for so many years," said Fiikry Boykien, a neighbor.

"I've known him a long time, I never had any problems with him," said Samah Elbek, a neighbor.

Sources told the 11 News I-Team that the information came from an informant overseas who passed on word to U.S. officials of a possible threat involving a bomb and Baltimore's tunnels. Sources said the information received from overseas included the names of certain people.

WBAL-TV 11 News reporter Lisa Robinson said officials called the credibility of the information "undetermined."

Perkins said the information was "about an unspecified tunnel in the Baltimore area" and that it was somewhat specific in reference to date and time.

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