WASHINGTON (AP) – The FBI issued a warning to state and local law enforcement nationwide yesterday about a possible attack soon against transportation systems, particularly railroads.

Officials said the warning, based on information obtained from al-Qaida prisoners, suggested that terrorists may try to take out bridges, key sections of tracks or train engines in an effort to cause derailments and widespread damage.

“Information from debriefings of al-Qaida detainees as of mid-October indicates that the group has considered directly targeting U.S. passenger trains, possibly using operatives who have a Western appearance,” the FBI said in a statement.

Intelligence officials continue to believe that al-Qaida plans to attack targets that would be readily recognized as representing U.S. economic interests, the FBI said.

Captured al-Qaida photographs of U.S. railroad engines, cars and crossings have increased concern about the threat, the FBI said.

Amtrak President David Gunn said federal transportation officials notified him about the warning. “The threat, like a lot of others, is not specific,” Gunn said. “It’s not targeted at anything per se.”

Gunn said the passenger railroad is taking steps to enhance security and passenger safety, but declined to describe them except to say they will not be evident to riders.

Amtrak has increased patrols and freight railroads have tightened security, the FBI said.

Around the Sept. 11 anniversary, Amtrak announced it intended to enforce tighter identification requirements, including random ID checks of passengers on trains. But Amtrak decided to reconsider that plan and has never implemented it. The Office of Homeland Security was contacting key state and local officials to urge their help and vigilance in warding off any such attack, spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

“The American people should still ride our nation’s rails and know that this warning has been provided to state and local law enforcement.

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