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Police doubt authenticity of Jeb Bush killing plot

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush  

MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Investigators have "serious doubts" about the credibility of a prison inmate who reported a possible plot to assassinate Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but said they take all threats seriously and will thoroughly follow the inmate's story, law enforcement officials said Friday.

Sources familiar with the investigation told CNN the inmate talked of four south Florida men with Arab names, saying they were trying to hire someone to drive an explosives-laden van to Tallahassee to kill the governor.

"I not feel threatened and don't want people around me to be concerned about this," Bush, the younger brother of the president, said, adding that he hasn't "changed anything" because of the alleged plot.

CNN's Mark Potter reports on the alleged plot against Florida Gov. Jeb Bush described by an inmate in a South Florida jail (January 11)

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Tim Moore, commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) downplayed the possibility of any connection to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"To label this as a terrorist plot is indeed a leap," Moore said. "But having said that, we take every threat seriously and follow it to its logical conclusion."

Authorities were alerted by a letter from the inmate mailed to the governor's office in December. The FDLE confirmed that it, the FBI and local law enforcement agencies were investigating the alleged threat, which was first reported on the Miami Herald Web site Thursday evening.

But CNN has learned that the inmate has failed a number of lie detector tests regarding the details -- described by some sources close to the investigation as vague -- of the plot.

One source told CNN that "on a scale of one to ten," he would give the informant's credibility in this case a three, and that, he said, was "being generous."

Some law enforcement officials say the inmate may be trying to strike a deal with prosecutors against his own charges.

The jailed informant reportedly told authorities that the plan was hatched last summer, and was not an afterthought of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. He said the assassination attempt was to have happened early this month.

Sources said one of the four men in question was stopped for a traffic violation Thursday on Interstate 95 in Broward County but was released.

Elsewhere in Broward County, a van matching the description given by the informant was inspected by law enforcement officials, a source said. The vehicle was parked, with no one inside, and no explosives, either. Bomb-sniffing dogs did react to traces of something inside the van, but officials said that did not necessarily indicate the presence of explosives.

Another one of the possible suspects was recently arrested on immigration charges, a source said.

The informant reportedly has been in jail for the past six or seven months. Information on the charges he faces was not disclosed.

The FDLE said Gov. Bush -- who returned to Tallahassee Thursday evening after a fund-raising swing in Washington -- has been kept informed about the developments in the investigation.

"(The governor) is safe and in good spirits," a statement released by the agency on Thursday said.




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