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Alaska military bases placed on high alert following terrorist attacks

Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2001

ANCHORAGE -- Military bases in Alaska were placed on high alert Tuesday and the FBI was coordinating with other federal agencies following a series of terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson were placed on full military alert.

Maj. Johnn Kennedy, chief of public affairs for the Air Force's 3rd Wing fighter group at Elmendorf Air Force base said the base is, like all others around the world, on high alert, although access to the base was not being completely restricted Tuesday morning.

"Obviously, as a result (of the attack) we're on an increased measure of protection," Kennedy said. "But we're going to let anyone on base who needs to be here. But it may take awhile this morning."

Major Bryan Hilferty of the U.S. Army in Alaska said posts are also under full alert.

"We've increased our security posture," Hilferty said.

Meanwhile, planes nationwide were grounded, including those at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Planes headed for the United States were being detoured to Canada. The Fairbanks International Airport also was on increased alert.

"We are in a heightened state of alert, yes," said Robert Burnham, an assistant special agent in charge for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Anchorage. "I don't think anyone has a handle on this yet."

Burnham said there had been no reports of attacks occurring in Alaska.

He said the FBI would be coordinating with other federal agencies to check major buildings in the city, including its own building. FBI agents were being sent to the airport.

"Right now we have no information of any direct threats to any sites in Alaska," he said.

The FBI was coordinating efforts with the Secret Service, U.S. Attorney's Office, the Anchorage Police Department and the federal office of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Burnham said FBI officials also were trying to get in contact with oil company officials to help them with any additional security measures they felt were needed. BP (Alaska) and Phillips Petroleum are two companies that have ownership in the trans-Alaska pipeline, which supplies the nation with about one-fifth of its oil needs.

In Juneau, Gov. Tony Knowles was also watching the situation closely and keeping contact with state emergency officials, said spokesman Bob King.

"The governor is certainly following the terrible events back East and wants to express his condolences sympathy to victims and concerns for firefighters and others," King said. "He will also commit any assets that may be needed to assist the National Guard."

Alaska's congressional delegation was also watching the tragedy.

"Words cannot express the anguish and horror we all feel at today's tragic news," Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, said. "I can assure you that the perpetrators of these murders will be rooted out and brought to justice."

The attacks began when two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center around 9 a.m. EST. The twin towers later collapsed.

Within the hour, an aircraft crashed on a helicopter landing pad near the Pentagon, and the White House, the Pentagon and the Capitol were evacuated.

In Pennsylvania, a large plane, believed to be a Boeing 747, crashed about 80 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. The fate of those aboard was not immediately known and it was not clear if the crash was related to the disasters elsewhere.



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