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Three Men Detained in Florida

Aired September 13, 2002 - 14:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: A 20-mile stretch of Interstate 75 in South Florida is a virtual ghost town today, except for law enforcement officials, bomb-detection equipment and the news media. CNN's Mark Potter is keeping track of what was first believed to be a possible terrorist plot. He brings us the latest now from there. Hi, Mark.
MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kyra. Well, they are not sure what this is, and they -- the only thing they can tell us now is that the first car of the two that they looked at has indeed been cleared. They found no evidence of any sort of explosives, anything like that.

For the last hour or so, they have been working on the second car, going through it with a robot. Also, technicians have approached the car wearing special protective suits to take items out of the car. The plan is to look at all those items to see what they can clear visually, then they'll run some through machines, X-ray machines or radiation machines, and try to clear those items, and then finally make an announcement to us, which we are standing by awaiting on what the status of that second car is.

The body language that we can read up in that scene is that they do not seem to be acting as if they expect an explosive device. In fact, earlier today, one of the bomb supervisors told me that after a preliminary look at both cars, they did not think they were going to find anything, but now, of course, they have to go through it with a fine-tooth comb, I mean, before they can give final clearance to this scene.

Now, once that occurs, we are told a determination will be made as to what to do with the three men who are categorized as detainees. They have been questioned on the scene here. They are still being held on the scene, we are told, in a van, and officials have gone out of their way to say that they are being treated well, that they are being kept in air conditioning, that they are being fed and that everybody in that entourage is standing by to see what's found in this car.

So we are awaiting. We have been told, promised by the authorities that as soon as they have answers as to what the scene is in the second car, they will come over here and tell us.

We are awaiting some word in Tallahassee as well from a state official there. We hear that there may be some announcement from a family member in Miami. A lot of things are coming together at this time; we are awaiting for these developments. So this is still very much a story in progress.

The highway is still shut down. We don't know how much longer it is going to be shut down. We have been given some estimates along the way from an hour and a half to three hours and -- who knows. We are just going to have to wait and see. It is still a work in progress right now, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So, Mark, if indeed, the bomb technicians do not find anything and both of these cars are cleared, could you hear from these three men that are being detained? I mean, would they just be let go after that, and then you'd have a chance to talk to them, is that a possibility?

POTTER: Well, that sure would be our hope. We'd like to hear their explanation and their thoughts on what has happened, but we do not know that. Just because the cars are cleared does not mean that they necessarily would be. The investigation is occurring in Illinois, and it's occurring in Miami. You know, the whole thing needs to be wrapped up before they are set free. That may happen at the same time, but I can't say that categorically. But clearing these scene in terms of the cars does not automatically mean that they would be released. But we sure would love to hear from them.

PHILLIPS: All right, Mark Potter, and I know you'd get it if it was possible. Mark, thank you so much.

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