They better get ready for new searches: http://daily.nysun.com/Repository/g...Type=text/html&Path=NYS/2004/04/30&ID=Ar00100 Publication:The New York Sun; Date:Apr 30, 2004; Section:Front page; Page:1 ENEMY CASING TEXAS FOR ATTACK, U.S. FEARS Intelligence Analysts Reporting Concern As Election Nears By ELI LAKE Staff Reporter of the Sun WASHINGTON Intelligence reports indicate that some Middle Eastern men are casing big coastal oil refineries in Texas, leading some intelligence analysts in Washington to be fearful of a strike on one of the oil facilities before Election Day. According to raw intelligence reports obtained byThe New York Sun along with information from industry and law enforcement sources dozens of individuals have been caught photographing or filming the perimeters of Texas oil facilities along the Gulf of Mexico in the last two years. An FBI circular to Texas law enforcement authorities and the petroleum industry last month warned of potential strikes. On March 28, an FBI circular passed on raw intelligence from a source overseas that said a refinery would be targeted in November. While the warning was unspecific and uncorroborated, it was not the first time the feds were put on notice of a terror attack in the heart of Americas oil country. An average of 20 Middle Eastern individuals in Texas a week are applying to have their surnames changed to Hispanic-sounding surnames, according to a report last month from the Department of Homeland Security that concluded some of this activity may be an effort to conceal identities. On June 6, 2002, the Texas Department of Transportation spotted two individuals in full-length wet suits near the Galveston Causeway Bridge. A report of the incident said the two men appeared to be prepared to scope out offshore facilities 30 miles northwest from the bridge in Pasadena,Texas. It is possible, that the TXDOT member observed surveillance and/or preoperational planning against an infrastructure target in the area, it said. On April 23, the crew of a vessel on Lake Pontchatrain, near New Orleans and Louisianas petrochemical sector, discovered a PVC pipe floating in the water comprised of a kitchen timer, 9-volt battery, and an aerosol can filled with an explosive. Attached to the pipe were two plastic bags filled with a gas lighter than air, floating atop the homemade bomb. On July 8, 2002, the FBI offices in Houston issued a nationwide broadcast to locate Mohammad Altaf, an individual who made threats with four other men on oil facilities in Pasadena, Calif. After analysis, the bureau determined that the threats were against the facilities in Pasadena,Texas. While none of these reports are a smoking gun suggesting an imminent attack on an oil facility, they paint a troubling picture for local and federal law enforcement officials who have been on increased guard since September 11, 2001, for attacks on critical parts of the American infrastructure. As the Sun reported yesterday, the FBI determined in early 2002 that between 50 and 100 Hamas and Hezbollah operatives with terrorist training had infiltrated America and are involved in fund-raising or logistical support. In 2002, the American intelligence community also learned that the terror wing Hezbollah,known as the Islamic Jihad Organization [a group so secret many of the organizations members do not know who their political leaders are] instructed its operatives to change its targets after the September 11 attacks. The director for security of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, Maurice McBride,told the Sun yesterday that the instances of surveillance of facilities have become so frequent that often security directors of oil companies only report them to the local law enforcement officials and dont mention them on an industry-run Web server. Since 9/11 we have had numerous reports of what are apparently surveillance activities. Some of these have been explained away and some have not been, he said. The recently retired chief of the FBIs counterterrorism division that handled threats from Hezbollah, Ken Piernick, told the Sun that he saw a number of reports of individuals casing the oil facilities in Texas while he was on the job. He said the reports ranged from delusional individuals in some cases to activities that raised serious concern. There have been situations where Arabic folks have been found near the fence lines of the facilities.The investigation found them to be not a threat. But they are not going to explain what they are up to when they get caught, Mr. Piernick said. Texas, with its porous border with Mexico and arid climate, has long been a favorite locale for Arab terrorists. One of the co-conspirators in Al Qaedas 1998 attack on the American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, Wadhi al-Haj, briefly lived in Houston, Mr. Piernick said. When asked if cells for known terrorists existed in Texas, he said,Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah types all have cells in the area that have the potential to be operational as opposed to the support and fund-raising cells which we know are already there, he said. Another former intelligence official said that radical Shiite clerics with possible connections to Iranian foreign agents are also believed to have resided in Texas. We take this all very seriously and continue to operate at heightened state of awareness. We recognize fully that refineries and petrochemical facilities are in the sites of Al Qaeda and other terrorists, Mr. McBride told the Sun.