Cloned emergency vehicles lookout memo issued.
Security officials around the cities hosting this year’s political conventions are being told to watch out for fake or cloned emergency vehicles.
A Federal Emergency Management Agency memo ‘bulletin’ says terrorists could use such “cloned” emergency or commercial vehicles to conduct surveillance or carry out an attack.
The National Insurance Crime Bureau says faking such vehicles is inexpensive, perhaps costing as little as $2000.00.
Meanwhile, the Secret Service says it doesn’t have any specific information that cloned vehicles are being used for terrorist or other illicit purposes at the Democratic convention in Denver or the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The bulletin, called an “infogram,” is distributed to emergency management officials across the country.
Officials are advised to know how to verify markings on government and military vehicles. Imaging systems that can see inside trucks as well as radiation detection equipment will be used in both convention cities to prevent anything dangerous from getting near or inside the venues.
Thousands of federal, state and local law enforcement officials will be working to secure the conventions, as will airport screeners, nuclear weapons experts and intelligence analysts.
Previous Incidents Involving Cloned Emergency Vehicles
Several recent incidents of cloned vehicles has caught the attention of intelligence analysts at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). In a nationwide survey of recent “cloned” vehicle reports, a troubling pattern emerged. In their study, tagged “law enforcement sensitive,” and completed this January, the FDLE charted some 15 incidents involving both faked official and commercial vehicles between 2005 and 2007, which should serve as a wake-up call to law enforcement and counterterrorism officials worldwide.
As the FDLE’s study, The Road Map to Cloned Vehicles, put it: “… the use of government vehicles with official markings, especially those associated with friendly military, government and public safety entities, could be a means of delivering a vehicle-borne explosive device to a target site. This method could allow terrorists to bypass established security protocols and strike hardened, high-value targets.”
“Load it with a conventional explosive or even a radiological device and you have the makings of a truly ‘ultimate nightmare’ scenario,” said a federal counterterrorism official familiar with the new Florida study.
Officially, at least, the FDLE declined to comment on their restricted clone report when asked for comment recently by HSToday. “That is ‘Law Enforcement Sensitive.’ The lawyers are looking at that now,” said Eva Rhody of the FDLE’s Office of Statewide Intelligence.
Some of the agencies, entities and commercial companies cited in this report also declined on-the-record interviews about the numerous incidents listed. To put it in context, they, too, are actually “victims” of such illicit practices.
One of the more ominous cases uncovered by the FDLE study was a July 2006 joint federal and state investigation in the Portland, Ore., area in which one stolen pickup truck displaying both National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) emblems was seized.
“During the investigation, a second stolen truck, again with FEMA markings and other FEMA documentation, was also recovered,” the report stated. The results of this rather worrisome case have still not been released.
It’s not just law enforcement that has to be worried. “We’ve had a few incidents, too,” as Bill Anderson, Ryder Truck’s director of global security, put it in an interview with HSToday. “Fortunately, they ‘only’ involved cargo theft,” and not terrorism threats, he said.