School buses are a security gap that most parents, police, and school officials don’t always see, but terrorists do.
By: AMANDA CREGAN The Intelligencer, March 10, 2009
Terrorism experts say homeland security begins at the school bus stop. School buses can be vulnerable to a potential attacker, but are often overlooked in a school district’s security plan.
That’s why 75 police officers, detectives, emergency workers and school administrators from across Montgomery, Bucks and the rest of the Philadelphia region spent Monday learning how to shore up the gap in a course on “School Bus Safety in a Post 9/11 Era” held at the North Montco Technical Career Center in Towamencin and hosted by the Southeast Region Terrorism Taskforce.
“Based on the assumption by the FBI, there will be further terrorist attacks and school buses are soft targets,” said the 23-year law enforcement veteran from Florida. “It’s been found that children could be the next target for terrorists.”
Police and school administrators need to better monitor their school bus yards and need to know if the buses are in a secure compound, who has access to the buses, are they monitored by guards and are the lots properly lit.
Recently, a police officer happened to drive by a dark, unsecured school bus lot in Florida and spotted someone cutting the buses’ brake lines, said Lavarello.
“It’s a very real threat to our children across the country in terms of homeland security,” he said. But the first line of defense in school security can start with parents at the bus stop and the school bus drivers.
Parents need to be observant of individuals they’ve never seen before or strange vehicles in close proximity to their child’s bus stop. A potential attacker would also notice if parents habitually chat at length with bus drivers, prolonging the bus’ stop and opening the site up to attack.
Bus drivers also need to be more aware of the emotional state of students on the bus, if they are crying or seem upset or depressed. Reporting disturbed students to school officials could be a way to stop them if they plan to carry out a violent school act.
“You have to realize that what happens in school, happens on the school bus. Everyone is focusing on the protection of schools, but the bus safety is really lacking,” said Sean Burke, president of School Safety Advocacy Council. “I think were sadly misinformed to think that people who plan to do our children harm don’t know this.”
School Bus Thefts Concern Houston Authorities.
Houston Police Department’s Criminal Intelligence Division, the FBI and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office are all concerned about a large number of school buses that have been stolen in the Houston area over the last several months.
An 11 News investigation uncovered that 17 large, yellow school buses were stolen recently from various charter schools, business schools and private bus companies.
FBI Puts Local Officials on Notice About Extremists Trying to Sign Up to Be School Bus Drivers.
WASHINGTON — The FBI has issued an “informational bulletin” to state and local officials saying to watch out for people tied to extremist groups trying to earn licenses to drive school buses.
The Associated Press reports that members of the unnamed extremist groups have succeeded in gaining the drivers licenses, but a Department of Homeland Security official told FOX News that “at this time there is no evidence that any of these individuals have got these jobs, or got hold of school buses.”
The Department of Homeland Security official said the bulletin was sent to state and local law enforcement officials, and “some school districts have reported an increased number of foreign nationals seeking school bus driver positions and a number of other unusual events.”
The bulletin noted “recent suspicious activity” by foreigners who either drive school buses or are licensed to drive them, the official told The Associated Press.
Foreigners under recent investigation include “some with ties to extremist groups” who have been able to “purchase buses and acquire licenses,” the bulletin says.
Hijacking School Buses: SCARY Updates on 2 Saudi Men & the DC Snipers.
A few scary updates on the ongoing legal matters of Muslim D.C. Sniper John Allen Muhammad and Mana Saleh Almanajam and Shaker Mohsen Alsidran–the two Saudi men who boarded a Tampa school bus “just for a joy ride”:
Tampa ABC Action News reports that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, our “ally in the War on Terror,” is picking up Almanajam’s and Alsidran’s legal fees in the entire trial on their misdemeanors for trespassing on the bus. The Saudis will not plea, but will have fancy lawyers fighting the charges courtesy of the Kingdom. The Saudi government also paid the legal fees of accused terrorist Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, helping him beat an incompetent Justice Dept. on well-founded charges of running websites for terror groups, etc. (More about the men, here and here.)
To those who say their boarding of a bus (one in a trench coat in the hot Florida weather) was not a dry run for a school bus hijacking, we suggest they look at the testimony of Islamic D.C. Sniper Lee Malvo, yesterday, in Muhammad’s ongoing trial.
As we noted, yesterday, Muhammad and Malvo called their planned route of killing “Allah 1,” a fact deliberately whitwashed by the media. In his testimony, also yesterday, Malvo said they planned for 30 days of terrorism, and that they would:
Target children and police officers with explosives. They planned to place explosives on school buses in Baltimore, kill a Baltimore police officer and then set off explosives packed with ball bearings at the officer’s funeral.
When Malvo asked Muhammad why, “he said for the sheer terror of it. The worst thing you can do to people is aim at their children,” Malvo testified.