Ten people were reportedly being detained by US authorities Thursday night after being taken into custody at New York area airports when they were found to be carrying false identification and knives, and at least some of them reportedly were carrying documents indicating they can fly commercial airplanes, according to ABC News. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), which had allowed resumption of air service only hours before, closed John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports in New York and Newark International Airport in New Jersey.
Five people -- four men and one woman -- were detained at Kennedy airport at about 4:15 p.m. ET and the others, all men, were taken into custody at LaGuardia at about 7:30 p.m., ABC is reporting. The Kennedy detainees reportedly were trying to board a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles, according to ABC and also had tickets for Tuesday flights which were canceled after the horrific terrorist attacks on US targets. The airport in Newark was closed as a precaution, ABC is reporting.
Although details remain sketchy, ABC is reporting that some of those in custody were carrying certificates from the Flight Safety International Flying School in Vero Beach, Florida, where three of the hijackers from Tuesday's horrific attacks are believed to have learned to fly.
US air travel was halted Tuesday after two airplanes hijacked from Boston's Logan International Airport slammed into the 110-story World Trade Center in New York. The "Twin Towers" collapsed as a result. More than 4,700 people are missing. A third hijacked airplane crashed at the Pentagon, the home of the US Department of Defense, located in Virginia across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. A fourth crashed in Pennsylvania after passengers on the flight apparently tried to wrest control of the aircraft from hijackers who federal officials have confirmed intended Air Force One, which flies President George W. Bush, as their target.
In a slightly different version of what appears to be the same breaking news story, CNN reported Thursday night that one man was arrested at Kennedy for trying to pass through security with false pilot's identification and three were detained at the same airport when their names "raised a red flag" when a ticket-counter agent put them into a computer. CNN based the report on comments from unnamed Federal Bureau of Investigation sources.
LaGuardia was evacuated earlier Thursday when three men allegedly claiming to be airline crew members carrying bags marked "crew" attempted to pass through a security checkpoint. The men do not work for any airline, ABC reported airport officials as saying.
As a precaution, Northwest Airlines canceled all of its Thursday flights citing "external information ... that indicates that it is not prudent to fly this evening," CNN quoted airline spokeswoman Mary Beth Schumbert saying. Also, Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C. remains closed because of how close it is to key federal buildings, including the Pentagon. Likewise, Logan Airport in Boston has yet to reopen.
After Tuesday's attacks, the FAA imposed stricter security measures at US airports, including a ban on knives in secure areas. Previously, the FAA had allowed passengers to carry knives so long as the blades did not exceed 4 inches. Vehicles cannot be parked within 300 feet of areas where passengers are dropped off and picked up, which means that parking facilities at some airports, including Logan, have had to be shut down. The FAA further ordered more random identification checks as well as searches of airports before they can open and of all aircraft before they take off. A further call has come for armed US marshals to fly on domestic flights.
Also on Thursday, President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell said that retaliation will involve a concerted military response rather than a single act. It remains unclear precisely what the target of retaliation will be, although Powell singled out Islamic extremist Osama bin Laden as the top suspect. He is believed to be in hiding in Afghanistan. The terrorist attacks constitute an "act of war," Bush has said, suggesting that the world is witnessing the "first war of the 21st century."