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FBI acknowledges its plane is circling Indiana town
The FBI said Thursday that the plane is being used in monitoring people who might have terrorist connections. Earlier in the week, when aviation officials disclosed that the aircraft was conducting surveillance, the FBI had denied any link to the plane.

Mystery flights had alarmed some residents

ASSOCIATED PRESS

10:25 a.m., February 28, 2003

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. A small plane whose frequent, unexplained flights over the city had raised fears among some residents is being used by the FBI, officials acknowledged.

The FBI said Thursday that the plane is being used in monitoring people who might have terrorist connections. Earlier in the week, when aviation officials disclosed that the aircraft was conducting surveillance, the FBI had denied any link to the plane.

Agent Thomas V. Fuentes said the FBI issued the denial because a reporter asked if the airplane is doing electronic surveillance, which it is not.

Fuentes and agent James H. Davis said the FBI is not aware of any threat to Bloomington or the state, but is watching many foreign nationals.

Besides individuals, they said, the aircraft is monitoring vehicles and businesses particularly those open late at night from which faxes or e-mails can be sent.

Residents in this city of 69,000 have seen the white, single-engine Cessna 182 at least since Feb. 19 making passes overhead about noon, in the late evening and after midnight.

Fuentes said the aircraft is conducting surveillance flights over several communities near Indianapolis.

Bloomington is about 40 miles south of Indianapolis and home to the flagship campus of Indiana University, where more than 3,300 foreign students attend.

Several of the university's students have been questioned by FBI agents, university and agency officials confirmed. Agency spokesman Doug Garrison, however, would not say if those interviews were related to national security or the airplane's flights.

 


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