Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Threat of Airplane Bomb Is Taken Seriously

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Threat of Airplane Bomb Is Taken Seriously

Article excerpt

Alarmed by a threat from the terrorist known as the Unabomber to blow up a plane by the Fourth of July, federal agents grounded all mail in California on Wednesday and imposed the tightest airport security since the Gulf War.

The warning - contained in a typewritten letter pronounced authentic by the FBI - represents the first time the elusive bomber has threatened a target.

The letter, received Tuesday by the San Francisco Chronicle, read: "WARNING. The terrorist group FC, called unabomber by the FBI, is planning to blow up an airliner out of Los Angeles International Airport some time during the next six days."

Ed Jones, division manager of security for the Federal Aviation Administration, said, "We do deem it to be a credible threat."

The Unabomber letter, postmarked Saturday in San Francisco, did not refer to any specific flight. And the FBI said it was not clear when the six-day period began.

At airports from San Francisco to Los Angeles and San Diego, passengers had to produce photo ID at counters and curbside baggage check-ins and were told their bags might be opened. The FAA also warned travelers to watch out for suspicious bags or parcels and expect security delays.

Long lines formed as ticket agents checked passengers' identification.

"I feel unsafe, but I try not to let it ruin my life," said John Mulcrone of West Hollywood, who had to produce his drivers license as he checked in at Los Angeles International Airport.

Mary Clark, 54, of Los Angeles, said, "I just pray and put it in God's hands."

Some airlines waived fees for passengers wanting to change their flights. There was no rush to cancel flights in advance of the Independence Day holiday, airlines said. But signs of the scare began to show.

"We've had a lot of worried people calling," said Joel Weinberger, an agent at Adore Travel in Los Angeles. He had just one cancellation, however.

The Federal Aviation Administration ordered all mail flown in and from California halted, said postal Inspector Dennis Hagberg. Many of the Unabomber's explosives have been mailed from northern California post offices, and the FBI has said the Unabomber probably lives near Sacramento. …

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