FBI briefs President on terror threat email-- sender will be charged under Terrorism Act
Guyana Chronicle
December 6, 2006

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PRESIDENT Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday indicated that the email threatening a chemical terror attack on airlines flying from here to the United States, is quickly turning out to be nothing but ‘a hoax’, based on investigations so far by the FBI and local law enforcement officers.

Mr. Jagdeo told reporters the FBI agents deployed to probe the terror threat briefed him yesterday on the current status of the investigations.

While indications are that the threat may be a hoax, he remained vehement in his condemnation of the act, saying whoever is found culpable will face the full brunt of the law under the Terrorism Act.

“I met the FBI today and they gave me a briefing on the issues and so far it seems as though there was a hoax, based on the initial investigations. But we intend to go the full course in finding that person,” President Jagdeo said.

Referring to the Terrorism Act that is in place, he said the person found culpable of sending the threat will be charged under the act since the email was “designed to cause public panic”.

“We are going to be hunting down that person; we need to send a very strong signal so that this does not happen again,” the President stressed.

He noted that the Police have so far questioned several persons and they have traced the location where the email emanated from and even zeroed in on the specific computer used to send the email.

He also advised the general public not to get into “excesses” on the computer or the internet, warning “there are means to trace emails (and) anything you do online could be traced back to you.”

Guyana Police and United States FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) agents Monday morning swooped on the Netsurf.com internet café on Asylum Street, New Amsterdam, Berbice and seized the CPUs for four computers.

This newspaper has learnt that the terror threat email was sent at 17:03 h Thursday to the U.S. embassy, airlines operating the U.S. routes, and newspapers here.

It was sent from terminal number three of the seven terminals in the internet café and a man who used that terminal was among those held and questioned Monday.

Acting Police Commissioner Edward Wills told the Guyana Chronicle yesterday the man was released and the search continues for the sender of the email.

He confirmed investigators still had a CPU seized from the internet café and local investigators and the FBI agents were pursuing several leads in tracking down the person who sent the threat.

The email said that starting last Friday, some American Airlines, North American Airlines and BWIA flights transporting American citizens from the U.S. to Britain, the Caribbean and African destinations and returning flights will be under serious chemical attack from an “independent militant group.”

The email was sent by M. Atayuv from atayuv@yahoo.com.

This triggered a heightened security alert at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the intensive probe by local Police, the FBI and U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which led them Monday morning to the internet café in New Amsterdam.

The internet café, which was closed Monday, resumed business yesterday.

Security has been beefed up at the airport at Timehri following the terrorist threat, and the heightened security alert there continued yesterday.

Among other heightened security measures, passengers are now going through a more stringent and elaborate screening process since the threatened chemical attack, whether it is a prank or not, is being taken very seriously by all stakeholders, officials said.

On Sunday night, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation announced it has activated its contingency plan in response to the threat against civil aviation, following the receipt of the anonymous email Friday.

Chief Executive Officer of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation, Mr. Ramesh Ghir, told the Guyana Chronicle yesterday the Threat Assessment Team at the airport met again yesterday morning and, based on the information available, decided to retain the security measures necessary for Alert Condition 3.

This Alert Condition requires Maximum Security Measures including:

* Additional screening of passengers

* More stringent access control measures

* Additional security checks of baggage/hand pieces.

Ghir said it was noted that the law enforcement agencies have been making progress with their investigation.

The Threat Assessment Team will continue to monitor the situation closely and will meet again tomorrow for a further evaluation, he said.

On Sunday, Minister of Transport and Hydraulics, Mr. Robeson Benn, visited the airport and was briefed on the security arrangements.

He subsequently toured the facility and observed the flight operations of a number of airlines.

There was satisfaction expressed that the measures being taken were adequate to ensure the safety and security of the travelling public and the airline and airport assets, Ghir said.

The airport corporation has announced that passengers will not be allowed to carry the following items in their hand luggage:

1. Liquids

2. Gels

3. Aerosols and

4. Powders

Passengers are permitted to carry these items in their ‘Checked Baggage’ only.

Benn has appealed to the travelling public for their cooperation during this time of “heightened security” as they are now required to undergo additional security checks at the airport.