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New Fears for Apartment Dwellers

In Maitland, Florida, residents of an apartment building found a terrorism warning posted on their doors. Tenants in Renton, Washington received a warning letter from their landlord. This is the result of a recent FBI warning, which was sent to the agency's field offices, that al-Qaeda has threatened to rent apartments with the intention of turning them into bombs and blowing them up. The warning has been handled differently by various landlords in different states.

The FBI warning says the threat is unconfirmed and does not specify any target. A U.S. government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says the information came from interviews with prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

FBI Agent Wendy Evans in Orlando, Florida says the warning was based on "uncorroborated chatter about explosives being left in an apartment. In an abundance of caution, we decided it was better (apartment managers) know than not know, so they would be aware of who they were renting to or in case of any suspicions they may have with a tenant."

The Dallas-based real estate company Trammell Crow Residential says it received the FBI warning last week from the Real Estate Roundtable, a national trade association. The information was relayed to the more than 200 properties Trammell Crow owns nationwide, including the buildings in Maitland and Renton. "It was very general, nonspecific, but we thought it was the right thing to do to pass it on," Trammell Crow spokesman Tom Patterson says.

In Richmond, Virginia, police are aware of the FBI advisory but didn?t relay the information to apartment complexes, police spokeswoman Christie Collins says. In Denver, police spokesman Sgt. Tony Lombard says officers were alerted in the event they get calls about the warning or notice anything suspicious. "As far as notifying apartment owners, officers are encouraged to do that as they go and deal with apartment owners, but as far as a blanket notification, I don't see us doing that," Lombard says.

In Sacramento, California, sheriff's department spokesman Sgt. James Lewis says deputies are not contacting apartment managers. "We get advisories on a regular basis," Lewis says. "They're reminders to us to stay on heightened alert." In Los Angeles, the FBI field office are reporting a high volume of calls from renters complaining about suspicious neighbors. Callers are advised to report any suspicions to their property managers.

Captain Cy Ritter, a police spokesman in Kansas City, Missouri, says his department received the FBI advisory, but left it to the local media to spread the word to property managers. "We haven't received any calls at all," he says.

Harry Benjamin, vice president of Wirtz Realty Corporation, which manages about 1,000 high-rise apartments in Chicago, says his company received no information about the warning from local or federal officials.

See news story ?Anthrax Scientists Taking Polygraph Tests?, click here.

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