On Thursday, the FBI sent one of its most strongly worded warnings yet to local law enforcement agencies.
"Once again we ask pilots to step up and take responsibility for GA security," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The FBI says the aviation sector, possibly including private aircraft, remains among the highest priority targets. We urge pilots to remain alert and notify authorities of anything suspicious they may see at the airport."
Pilots should report suspicious activities to local police or local FBI offices. ( AOPA's Airport Watch toll-free phone number, which will be provided by the Transportation Security Administration, is scheduled to become operational next month.)
Based on the recent audiotape that is likely the voice of Osama bin Laden, the recent worldwide increase in terrorist activity, and other intelligence sources, the FBI says al Qaeda "may favor spectacular attacks that meet several criteria: high symbolic value, mass casualties, severe damage to the U.S. economy, and maximum psychological trauma."
The FBI warning acknowledges that al Qaeda may still be too weakened to carry out a massive attack and, therefore, may resort to numerous smaller attacks using conventional explosives rather than chemical or biological weapons, "and [may use] low-technology platforms such as truck bombs, commercial or private aircraft, small watercraft, or explosives easily concealed and planted by terrorist operatives."
Because the FBI has no information about a specific attack, the Homeland Security Advisory System threat level remains at condition Yellow (Elevated).