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US mass transit alert goes to 'orange'
Updated: 2005-07-08 07:21

U.S. officials have long worried that terrorists would try to strike the nation's mass transit system.

Authorities are particularly concerned about transit systems in Washington, New York, Boston, Miami and Chicago because of earlier indications of al-Qaida's interest in those cities, said John Rollins, a former senior Homeland Security intelligence official now with Congressional Research Service.

In February, FBI Director Robert Mueller told the Senate Intelligence Committee that U.S. transportation systems "remain a key target." He said last year's attacks on commuter trains in Madrid showed the devastation that a simple, low-tech operation could achieve.

U.S. security concerns and resources have focused on commercial airlines since 2001, said Sen. Susan Collins (news, bio, voting record), R-Maine, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee.

"We tend to always be looking backward at what the last threat or attack was," Collins said. "As soon as we close the gaps in one area, I'm certain the terrorists will exploit in other areas."

Security efforts were not being increased at U.S. airports after Thursday's attacks.

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