Tampa, Florida -- While the TSA is just issuing a warning to airlines to be on the lookout for terrorists who may try to smuggle explosives onto a plane, federal air marshals have been warning us about terrorist threats since last fall.
That's when 10 Investigates obtained a classified memo about a potential probing incident on a U.S. Airways flight from Washington to Orlando. At the time the TSA discounted the incident, but now that the TSA is warning about another potential terrorist threat aboard a flight, it comes as no surprise to the federal air marshals.
We can't reveal the identity of the federal air marshals who talked to us, but one tell us the thought of a terrorist attack "terrifies the public." And he says, "That's exactly what the terrorist's intentions are."
These federal air marshals, or FAMS, have known for months that terrorists could be planning another takeover of a flight and are concerned how easy it would be. This summer, TSA director John Pistole issued a warning of next generation bombs and liquid explosives that clothes could be soaked in, go undetected, and then ignited to bring down an U.S.-based airliner.
According to Pistole, bringing down a U.S. aircraft "is their [the terrorists] gold standard." He adds, "They want to show we spent billion and billions of dollars and we can't stop them."
Another FAM we talked to says, "If they can just get these items on a plane and create an explosive. All they have to do is take down one plane, get on TV Al Jazeera and say we did it."
The FAM asks, "What does that do to our economy? What does that do to the airline industry?"
And while the FAMs hope to be able to prevent such an incident, if an undetectable explosive gets onto one of their flights, they also realize they are the most vulnerable person on the plane.
"The terrorists aren't stupid and operationally if a terrorist gets on a plane their number one notion is to identify the federal air marshal. Once you identify them, if you can take them out as the number one threat, then everything else is gravy. The airplane gets taken and they can have their way."
And that's why the FAMs are pleased the TSA is making the public aware that another terrorist threat exists.
"And basically what it comes down to is it's going to happen again if we don't continue to be vigilant."
While the FAMs are happy the TSA is warning the public, they have been highly critical of the agency for not being straight with the American flying public. The FAMs say the TSA downplays the fact that terrorists are plotting every day to take down an airliner in the United States.
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