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FBI monitoring suspicious blueprint requests

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI is asking architects and building engineers across the country to report any suspicious requests for building plans, especially for federal buildings and projects, according to two industry groups.

Since Sept. 11, a number of design and engineering firms have contacted their professional organizations about recent or past "unusual" requests for blueprints. These requests came both before and after the attacks.

According to Phil Simon, a spokesman for the American Institute of Architects, the requests included plans for structures such as airport terminals and towers, federal office buildings, parking garages and museums.

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Simon would not characterize the number of these requests but said the subjects of the requests, and the details asked for, raised some concerns.

The American Institute of Architects and the National Society of Professional Engineers reported their concerns to the FBI. The groups then sent a joint letter to their members, saying "The FBI is advising us to heighten our awareness."

CNN Radio obtained a copy of that letter, sent in the past few days, asking architects and engineers to notify the nearest FBI bureau field office of any unusual requests.

An AIA official said there may be nothing sinister about the blueprint requests. Often students ask for blueprints as part of their studies.

A government official -- while not familiar with this letter -- said the FBI's concerns would make sense, considering the broader effort to make sure all suspicious activity is reported to federal authorities.

Federal officials have advised many industries to be especially vigilant and on heightened alert for possible terrorist activity.

The deputy commissioner of the Public Buildings Service at the General Services Administration also signed the letter. The GSA is responsible for the operation of all federal buildings.

A request for plans involving a GSA building, the letter says, should be sent to the Federal Protective Service. The three organizations have also developed a downloadable report form for professionals to use to document such requests.


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