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French Authorities Find No Evidence of Planned Air Attacks - 2003-12-25

French authorities say they have found no evidence that terrorists were planning to use Air France aircraft to launch attacks on American targets.

They said Thursday they had made no arrests after interrogating and screening passengers scheduled to fly out of Paris on the airline today or Wednesday. The passengers interviewed were selected based on names provided by U.S. security officials.

A Tunisian man with a pilot's license singled out by U.S. security officials for particular attention was found by the French to still be in Tunisia, not France.

French authorities say there is insufficient information to justify opening a formal inquiry.

Six Air France flights scheduled to fly to or from Los Angeles Wednesday and Thursday were canceled after U.S. officials warned of a credible terrorist threat.

Los Angeles International airport is at its highest security level since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Three years ago, it was the target of a foiled bomb plot by an Algerian national.

Meanwhile, authorities at New York's LaGuardia Airport temporarily evacuated the Delta Airlines terminal late Wednesday after a female passenger apparently set off a metal detector and disappeared into the crowd.

The heightened air security activity comes days after Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge raised the U.S. terror alert status from "elevated" to "high." Mr. Ridge cited a substantial increase in the volume of threat-related intelligence. He said then that al-Qaida terrorists continue to consider using aircraft as weapons.