In the past week, laser beams of unknown origins have been shined into the cockpits of seven airplanes as they were about to land at various airports around the country, including Teterboro Airport. Federal officials announced Thursday that they were initiating a major investigation to determine whether the episodes were related to terrorism. \nIn the latest incident, at 5:40pm on Wednesday, the cockpit of a Cessna Citation was hit with a beam as it approached the Teterboro Airport, near Hackensack, about 12 miles from Midtown Manhattan, officials said. \n"All of a sudden the pilot saw his cockpit being illuminated by a laser," said Stephen Kodak, spokesman for the Newark office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "The light was flashing on and off. It went on for about 20 seconds." \nThe pilot landed the plane safely and immediately notified federal officials, who connected the incident to others across the country. Since Christmas, pilots have reported similar experiences while landing in Houston, Washington, Cleveland, Colorado Springs and Medford, Oregon. There were two incidents in Colorado Springs. \nThe pilots reported that they had been flying at low altitudes, approaching the airports, when they were momentarily disoriented by a laser beam hitting the cockpit. \nFederal officials said that nobody had been hurt but that the consequences could have been disastrous. \n"If both the pilot and co-pilot are blinded by one of these devices, it could cause a plane crash," said Bill Carter, a spokesman for the FBI in Washington. "But let me be clear: So far this has been more of a nuisance than anything." \nOfficials said they did not know what kind of lasers were being used and emphasized that the high intensity lights, usually red or green, are cheap and easy to buy; they are found on carpenters' levels, disco equipment, gun scopes and pen-size pointers that professors use on blackboards. \n"These things are so commonplace you got people just pointing them up at airplanes for no reason," Carter said. \nBut why so many incidents in one week? \n"One theory is that this might be just different people trying out Christmas gifts," said a federal official close to the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Another theory is that this is organized." \nFBI officials said none of their intelligence sources had indicated a laser-based terrorist plot. \n"We haven't seen any information that a terrorist group is trying to take down a domestic airliner with a laser," he said. However, even before these incidents, the FBI was concerned enough to issue a bulletin, dated Nov. 22, warning local law enforcement departments of the potential threat lasers posed to commercial aircraft. Federal officials said that even if the lasers were being aimed at planes mischievously and not with sinister intent, it is still a federal offense to interfere with a flight crew. \nAccording to a study published by the Federal Aviation Administration in June, there have been hundreds of laser-in-the-cockpit incidents, many pre-dating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. \nLasers have hurt at least two pilots, one a SkyWest Airlines captain who suffered multiple flash burns to his cornea in 1996 after he was beamed by a mysterious laser over Los Angeles.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread