FBI checking leads on fuel tanker hijacking attempt

| 4/2/2003

The FBI said it was checking about a half-dozen leads in the attempted hijacking of a fuel truck in Morgan County, IN. Agent Doug Garrison said March 27 that nobody had been questioned, but some leads seemed promising.

State Police said the incident happened around 10:36 a.m. March 24 on southbound Indiana Highway 37 near Bloomington in Martinsville, IN. A GMC Yukon truck with flashing blue and red lights and no license plate tried to get the tanker to stop.

There were two men in the Yukon, police said. The FBI told Land Line the driver of the Yukon pointed a gun at the truckdriver.

Garrison, FBI spokesman for the Indianapolis division, said the agency had alerted all the local law-enforcement counterparts, who in turn are reaching out to the appropriate agencies.

“This is not new; we've known since September 11 that terrorists would target fuel tanker trucks. This recent incident reinforces this belief, but at this point, we just don't know what prompted the attempted hijacking.”

Meanwhile, The Flying J is reportedly stepping up security by having all of their tanker drivers call in 10 minutes before arrival and then again once they arrive.

Zane Atkinson, Flying J general manager, told Land Line: “We have a national security plan in place that was formulated after September 11. Based on current threat levels, we will react on a national level. We have an ongoing dialogue with federal officials.”

While police got a description of the bald, gun-wielding passenger, the tanker's driver did not get a good look at the Yukon's driver.

Anyone with information on the attempted hijacking is asked to call the Indiana State Police at (317) 897-6220 or the FBI at (317) 639-3301.

Concern trucks and gas stations targeted

Because the FBI thinks terrorists may be targeting trucking companies and gas stations, many in those industries have issued alerts, WTHR of Indianapolis reports.

The FBI thinks the Martinsville hijacking attempt was no ordinary holdup.

"Since 9-11 we're looking at particular industries and threats, and the fact that it's a fuel tanker completely loaded with gas adds to the interest in this case," FBI Special Agent Thomas Fuentes told a local television station.

"It's really, really scary sometimes," trucker Gilbert Millan told the television station. Millan says his company "told us don't tell anyone what loads we're carrying. If they ask any individual questions, report it in to the truckstops."

Another change truckers have noticed, according to the television report, is that crews are called in to check out all trucks carrying hazardous materials before passing through a weigh station.

--by Dick Larsen, senior editor