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Terror threat to US rail puts law enforcement on alert

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ABC News

By Erin Dooley and David Kerley

With terrorist groups renewing calls for would-be attackers to target American rail lines, at least one local law enforcement agency in the U.S. is using drones to help guard against such a threat.

The police chief for the Philadelphia-area's mass-transit system said he has known for some time that more than 140,000 miles of rail lines crisscrossing America are "porous" and had thought for a while of using drones to monitor the agency's tracks.

He initiated the drone program after an article in the latest issue of al Qaeda's English-language publication gave step-by-step instructions for fashioning a "homemade derail tool" and claimed that railroads are among America's "easiest targets."

"It is time that we instill fear and make them impose strict security measures to trains as they did with their air transportation," the publication said.

The al Qaeda article prompted the federal Transportation Security Administration to send a security notice to law enforcement across the nation, ABC News has learned.

Amid this threat, Thomas Nestel, police chief for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority, told ABC News' David Kerley, that drones are "a great way for us to patrol a track without walking on the track, putting officers in jeopardy safety-wise."

"Using the drone can cover a whole lot of area in a much faster span of time," he said.

"This was bouncing around in my head for a little while and then when that ... article came out, I pulled the trigger, I said, 'Let's do it,'" Nestel said.

Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/terror-threat-us-rail-puts-law-enforcement-alert/story?id=51204458