A U.S. senator called Sunday for a "no-ride list" for Amtrak trains after intelligence gleaned from the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound pointed to potential attacks on the national rail system.
Sen. Charles Schumer said he would also push for added funding for rail security and commuter and passenger train track inspections and more monitoring of stations nationwide.
"Circumstances demand we make adjustments by increasing funding to enhance rail safety and monitoring on commuter rail transit and screening who gets on Amtrak passenger trains, so that we can provide a greater level of security to the public," the New York Democrat said at a news conference.
U.S. officials last week said evidence found after the raid on the al Qaeda leader's hideout in Pakistan indicated there had been discussions about a possible attack on a U.S. train on Sept. 11, 2011 -- the ten-year anniversary of the New York and Washington attacks orchestrated by bin Laden.
Schumer, citing U.S. intelligence analysts, said attacks were also considered on Christmas and New Year's Day and following the president's State of the Union address.
Trains in Europe have already been subject to attack.
In March 2004, Islamic militants killed 190 people in simultaneous bomb explosions in packed rush-hour trains in three Madrid stations. A judge investigating the case said the attack was inspired by, but not ordered by, al Qaeda.
And al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, took credit for a July 2005 attack that saw four explosions rip through London's underground rail system and buses, killing 52 people and the four bombers.
The 9-11 Commission, an independent panel that investigated the 2001 attacks, recommended seven years ago that U.S. transit authorities check names against terrorism watch-lists before allowing passengers to board trains or cruise ships.
Such a program was not adopted.
Schumer called on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to expand the Secure Flight monitoring program, which currently cross-checks air travelers with a "no-fly list" to prevent anyone listed from boarding.
A similar procedure could create an Amtrak roster to keep suspected terrorists off the U.S. rail system, he said.
Schumer noted that rail and port security funding was cut by $50 million under last month's federal budget compromise, but he said information obtained as a result of the bin Laden raid made it important to reconsider this. (Reporting by Chris Michaud, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Laura MacInnis)
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