'Mohamed Atta' Bomb Threat Forces Portland Airport Evacuation

PORTLAND, Maine -- An airport that was the starting point for one of the Sept. 11 hijackers was evacuated for several hours after receiving a bomb threat signed under the alleged terrorist's name. Officials found nothing and reopened the Portland airport Wednesday.

The airport was evacuated Tuesday night and passengers arriving by plane were shuttled to a nearby hotel. A police search failed to turn up anything.

Portland police received a hang-up emergency call shortly at about 9:30 p.m. that led them to a pay phone at a strip mall where they found a note signed by "Mohamed Atta" warning that the airport would be destroyed at 11 p.m., according to Jeff Monroe, Portland's transportation director.

Atta, considered the ringleader of the attacks, passed through the Portland airport the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, before joining other terrorists in Boston and hijacking a plane that was flown into the World Trade Center in New York.

Portland police searched the terminal, the parking garage and eight planes that were parked at the airport, Monroe said. The search ended at 1:45 a.m. Wednesday, about 15 minutes after the final flight landed.

During the search, 375 passengers on eight inbound planes were taken by bus from the runway directly to a nearby hotel instead of the terminal, Monroe said. Baggage handlers took luggage from the plane directly to the hotel, where it was distributed to passengers.

(c) 2005 The Associated Press