Terror task force probing suspicious activity around Chicago landmarks

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

ABC7 News has learned the terrorism task force is looking into two suspicious cases in downtown Chicago. They happened within the last three weeks. Investigators describe one of the incidents as frightening.

The incidents involve two landmark Chicago buildings, the Sears Tower and Boeing World headquarters. Since 9-11, the Sears Tower building management in particular has increased security efforts several times over. But the law enforcement sources say, nevertheless, they are concerned about these latest incidents.

The entire incident was recorded on Sears Tower video security cameras. The tape is now in the hands of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. It shows three suspicious looking men parked right in front of the building near the loading dock.

They get out of the car in point formation, with two of the men appearing to serve as lookouts, and a third taking pictures of the building with either a video or still camera. When building security noticed them guards made them leave. They failed, however, to ask for identification, and if they had, it may have been phony, because authorities later learned the car was rented under a fake name.

A law enforcement source who has seen the video describes it as very frightening.

Mark Spencer, a spokesperson for the Sears Tower said, "We reported this situation to federal authorities immediately after it occurred. We are confident that federal investigators will thoroughly investigate the situation."

There is no video of a second incident, around the same time of a suspicious individual who was seen sketching the Boeing headquarters building. Building security questioned that man, even took pictures of his sketch but again failed to get an ID or even a picture of him.

Chicago police are part of the terrorism task force and a spokesperson says the incidents are being investigated. She says incidents like this have to be taken very seriously but should not be cause for alarm.

According to those who have seen it, the security camera video from the Sears Tower does not show clear pictures of the men, at least clear enough to identify them. There may be an innocent explanation for what they were doing there, but at this point, investigators have no idea what that might be.

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