ABC News reports that a number of suspicious incidents have been reported on ferries in the state of Washington, according to the FBI. Accordingly, they have issued warnings to local law enforcement and alerted the Coast Guard to heighten their awareness in the area:
There have been a number of suspicious incidents this summer aboard Washington state ferries, which prompted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Coast Guard to increase security along the ferry lines and to issue a warning to law enforcement.
"On several occasions since May 2007, members of the public and employees of the Washington State Ferry (WSF) have reported a number of suspicious activities aboard state ferries," said the note, sent out Wednesday to state and local law enforcement by the chief intelligence officer at DHS.
The warning was issued as the hunt continues for two potential suspects that were observed on multiple Washington state ferries. The individuals "exhibited unusual behavior and undue interest in the layout and workings of the ferries and ferry terminals," said the note.
This gives more context to the flap that arose in Seattle, when the Post-Intelligencer refused to run a photo of two men who "exhibited unusual behavior and undue interest". The FBI wanted help in identifying the two men captured in the photo taken by a ferry employee unnerved by the pair's questions. The P-I claimed that a right to privacy -- for a picture taken on a public ferry -- overrode any security considerations.
It turns out that ferry employees have reported a number of incidents. In fact, all of the incidents reported appear to involve the same two men, which really has the FBI curious about their identities and their intentions. That's why the FBI felt strongly enought to ask Seattle media to run the picture.
Why would al-Qaeda target the ferries in Seattle? They run close to some pretty attractive targets. Power plants, chemical facilities, and oil refineries all sit within close range of the boats. If a few good-sized bombs could get onto the ferries (perhaps in cars?), an AQ cell could seize control of a few and wreak havoc on Seattle.
DHS has increased security on the ferries and other transportation outlets in the region, ABC News says. They have no specific information about any planned attacks -- but thanks to the P-I, they haven't been able to question this pair about their unusual interest in ferry infrastructure.
In case you missed the earlier post, here's the picture the P-I wouldn't run:
If you have any information about these two men, please call the FBI office near you.