Heightened Alert - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

12.23.03

Heightened Alert

The word from Washington is don't cancel plans, but do be vigilant. There's evidence that local officials are taking the threat seriously.

Monday saw a steady flow of travelers at Wilmington International Airport. Security officials say they will be on the look out for anything unusual, and do more bag searches than normal. But it's the larger destinations where there will be bigger changes.

As more planes take to the skies for the holiday, airports across the country are beefing up security for fear that planes could become weapons again. Tom Ridge, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security calls it, "A strong message hopefully of reassurance and confidence to the American public."

Ridge says there's reason to believe that Al-Qaida terrorists are planning an attack on the U.S.  Intelligence officials worry that last week's audio tape from Osama Bin Laden's top deputy could contain a hidden message; a "go ahead" for terror attacks already in the works.

But travelers at the Wilmington International Airport say planes have been running mostly on schedule and the airport has been rather steady with travelers today. The transportation safety administration says that security here will be the same in number, but the officials will be more efficient in looking for anything suspicious.

Officials say they don't plan to put more security officers on duty, but bag searches will be more thorough. For that reason, they are asking passengers to arrive early to allow time to have luggage checked and be searched.

Passengers on flights heading to Washington D.C. and New York City won't get special treatment, although both cities were terror targets on 9/11.

Reported by Heather Higgins: hhiggins@wect.com

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