Terror case spurs local action

A national terrorism warning has Bay Area transit systems, entertainment complexes and stadiums using extra vigilance.

In two bulletins sent to police departments across the nation Monday and obtained by The Associated Press, officials said they know of no specific plots against public gathering places, but urged law enforcement and private companies to be alert.

The bulletins followed on the heels of a similar warning Friday regarding the vulnerabilities of mass-transit systems.

The warnings come amid an investigation centering on Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year-old Denver airport shuttle driver. Authorities say he received al-Qaida explosives training in Pakistan and was found entering New York City two weeks ago with bomb-making instructions on his computer.

Zazi’s arrest in Colorado last week touched off the most intense flurry of government terror warnings and advisories to come to light since President Barack Obama took office.

Though Zazi is charged only with lying to the government, law enforcement officials said he may have been plotting with others to detonate backpack bombs on New York trains in a scheme similar to the attacks on the London subway and Madrid’s rail system in recent years. Backpacks and cell phones were seized in raids on apartments Zazi visited in New York.

In light of the warnings by the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation, San Francisco police are taking undisclosed security measures.

“We are aware of the situation, we are responding to it and we are taking preventative measures,” police spokesman Sgt. Wilfred Williams said. “However, there has been no credible and specific threat to San Francisco at this time.”

Muni spokesman Judson True said the transit agency would stick to its normal level of vigilance, which includes regular sweeps of vehicles for any unusual items and K-9 units patrolling trains.

BART will do the same by conducting random inspections of trains and platforms and asking riders to report suspicious packages to station agents, said spokesman Jim Allison.

BART already practices each of the precautionary measures suggested in the most recent bulletin, with the exception of searching luggage. Officials will only consider that if the federal terror alert rises to red, Allison said. The nationwide alert level is currently
at yellow.

As for the threat against stadiums, officials at both AT&T Park and the Oakland Coliseum said they will continue to be thorough in checking fans’ bags.

“MLB security has kept us abreast of these possible new threats,” A’s Public Relations Director Bob Rose said. “We will continue to be as diligent as possible in our security precautions. In our daily briefings, we will remind our staff to be extra aware of their surroundings.”

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

 Locations on alert

 

Federal officials sent out two memos that urged heightened awareness by local law enforcement and private companies for:

  • Mass-transit systems
  • Sports facilities
  • Entertainment venues
  • Hotels

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