The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has alerted the trucking industry that recently-apprehended Al-Qaeda operative, Khalid Mohammed, had explored the use of trucks as weapons to attack bridges and other points in the transportation infrastructure. The alert was issued through the ATA's Highway Watch program and sent out to all drivers currently enrolled in the program after US intelligence sources released the terrorist information.
Under ATA's Anti-Terrorism Action Plan, professional truck drivers are being trained to spot and report any suspicious activities that might have terrorism or national security implications.
The plan's goal is to make certain that a truck is never used as a weapon, according to ATA. The plan is a coordinated effort of the Trucking Security Working Group, a task force of organizations representing trucking, and trucking-related workers in the United States and Canada, including tank truck carriers, intermodal groups, long-haul and local trucking companies, agricultural transporters, moving and storage firms, truck rental companies, and truck stop operators.
Initially, truck drivers report security-related sightings to an industry-sponsored, toll-free number. The information is then screened and assigned to appropriate federal and state authorities for action. A full-fledged Highway Watch Operations Center is planned for the next phase of the security action plan.
The Highway Watch program is currently up and running in twenty-one states with sixteen of those states providing anti-terrorism training to their drivers. Those providing security training include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.