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Men from Cars Being Held on Site

Aired September 13, 2002 - 12:45   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: A 20-mile stretch of Alligator Alley has been closed. Right here, live pictures now from one of our CNN affiliates, WFOR, since police stopped a car that had run a toll booth. Alerts had been posted for that car. As another one pulled up behind it, police -- both -- checking both cars.
The reason why authorities got worried was because a woman in Georgia had overheard three men discussing what sounded like plans for a terror attack in Miami. Therefore, right now, bomb squads already clearing one car. It is clear. They did not find signs of any explosives. Now in the process of clearing that second car. Three men are being detained. They are not being called suspects, they have not been arrested, but three men now being detained in Florida for this incident.

Our Mark Potter is live on the scene, where he just tuned in to a number of news conferences that have been taking place with regard to this story -- Mark, what can you tell us? Bring us up to date.

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know now is that this highway that we are next to is going to stay closed for another couple of hours. That is an estimation from the bomb squad specialists and from the law enforcement supervisors who are saying that this search of the second car is still in its preliminary stages, and will likely continue for some period of time.

As you said, and to review, the first car has been cleared now. They found no explosives, no evidence of explosives in that car. It was moved off to the side so that the bomb squad technicians could now search the second car. At first, they were using a robot to take items out.

We've seen technicians approaching the car. The overall plan is to use the robot first, have the technicians wearing special suits carry the rest of the items out of the car, and then to analyze the material using a specialist from the Miami-Dade Bomb Squad to look at it, to visually inspect the material, and clear what he can that way, and then whatever is left, they will use an X-ray machine, a portable X-ray machine to determine the danger or not as to the rest of material.

We're also at a news conference a short while ago from a regional supervisor from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement in effect, the Florida State Police, that a special device has also been brought in from the FBI to help detect any sort of radiation, and so they are going to be using that as well. One thing we did hear earlier is that a hazardous materials team, a HAZMAT unit, as they call it, from Naples came in here and searched the area surrounding these cars and found that there was no evidence at all of any sort of environmental threat, no radiation -- I mean, no explosives material.

So slowly but surely the scene is being cleared away. They still can't say categorically what they have in the second car, but from the body language of the technicians who were walking up to the car close to it, they obviously don't think that this is an imminent threat, a major threat.

And so they continue toward clearing that second car. Now one thing we were also told about the detainees is that the three men are held here on the scene in a van. The supervisor from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement wanted to stress that they are being treated well. They are being held in air-conditioning. They are being fed, and everybody is waiting to see what happens with this search, and what determinations are made by the law enforcement officials who are investigating this case. They are not being let go. There are no plans to do that to our knowledge. They are still here, and the investigation continues, and as for this search right here down the road, beyond the car there and the people behind me, we're looking at another hour or two before that is completed, we're told by the authorities.

PHILLIPS: All right. Mark Potter there live, Alligator Alley. Mark, thank you so much.

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