WASHINGTON — U.S. ferry operators have been warned by the FBI to be on the alert for any potential terrorist activity on their vessels.
Separately, the FBI also said that it is reissuing a "Be On The Lookout" advisory (search) for suspected terrorist Abderraouf Jdey (search), who is to be "considered extremely dangerous."
"Law enforcement officers are requested to stop and detain Jdey and to contact the FBI for further guidance," the FBI stated.
In its weekly law enforcement bulletin (search), the FBI said ferries could be a likely terrorist target because of their "easy access" and "minimal security checks," but there was no specific information regarding what types could be targeted or when.
"During the past year there have been numerous reports of suspicious activity and possible surveillance of ferry operations around the United States," the FBI bulletin said.
The bulletin also says: "The FBI possesses no information indicating specific terrorist targeting of U.S. ferryboats and terminals. However, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (search) assess that ferry operations represent a viable and vulnerable target should Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups choose to exploit their vulnerability."
The bulletin was issued late Wednesday to law enforcement agencies throughout the country. In it, the FBI states that because of their "accessibility, soft targets, particularly ferries, which have the potential to yield a high casualty count, remain attractive potential targets for terrorist attack."
"The fact that many ferries operate in close proximity to oil terminals, tourist facilities and places of commerce further enhances their attractiveness as terrorist targets," the bulletin says. "The easy access and minimal security checks associated with allowing passenger vehicles on board make ferries particularly vulnerable to vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices."
The FBI also notes that Al Qaeda is "known to conduct sophisticated surveillance over periods of time that can extend from months to years. Initial surveillance would likely involve research and monitoring of a number of potential targets before on is selected."
The FBI states that terrorists would likely conduct this surveillance to focus on identifying specific vulnerabilities in order to "refine a plan of attack."
"Surveillance of ferryboat and terminals may include the use of watercraft to monitor ferry handling, speeds and routes," the FBI states. "Terrorists may also pose as passengers or pier-side observers of ferryboat and dockside activities.
In January, Jdey was identified as one of five individuals depicted on videotapes recovered from the destroyed residence of Usama bin Laden's military chief, Muhammad Atef (search). Officials say Atef was killed by a U.S. airstrike in November.
Attorney General John Ashcroft then identified Jdey, who also goes by the name Al Rauf Bin Al Habib Bin Yousef Al-Jiddi, as a 36-year-old Canadian citizen born in Tunisia.
The videos depict the individuals, including Jdey, apparently stating their "last will" and their intent to become martyrs, according to the FBI. One of the men was shown cradling a rifle and another, hailing from Yemen, was suspected of being intended for the Sept. 11 attacks.
The other four men in the video were identified as Abd Al-Rahim, Muhammad Sa'id Ali Hasan, Khalid Ibn Muhammad Al-Juhani and Ramzi Binalshibh. Binalshibh is a Yemeni who U.S. officials say was associated with Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta (search).
Then, Ashcroft said the FBI was also searching for an associate of Jdey, identified as Faker Boussora (search), 37, also a Canadian citizen born in Tunisia. Ashcroft characterized the men as "extremely dangerous."
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., Jdey lived in Montreal for several years, although Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said the man no longer was in Canada.
I posted this because I am thinking that the last time we were on the ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke, which was 11/02 I don't remember any kind of security check at all......and you all know how much security airline travelers have to go thru but the ferry system I don't think has any.