Authorities are threatening to attack the U.S. Capitol

Aviation, law enforcement, and national security officials are investigating an unlicensed message sent through the air traffic control channel threatening to attack the U.S. Capitol, according to people skilled in the matter.

The threat was handed over on Monday on a radio frequency used by a Federal Aviation Authority facility that handles high-altitude traffic around the New York metropolitan area, one such man said. It is one of the busiest air traffic control centers in the FAA, Ronkonkoma, NY

The message was probably transferable, one person said, because the air traffic control system has access to some portable scanners that are available to consumers, flight enthusiasts and pilots.

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CBS News, which first reported the threat, played a recording of an apparently computer-generated voice that said, “We’re flying a plane to the Capitol on Wednesday.” The message indicated that the motivation was to avenge the assassination of a prominent Iranian military leader, General Qassem Soleimani, by the U.S. government in 2020.

Lawmakers gathered on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday for a joint session of Congress to confirm the election victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

After hearing people, law enforcement and security agencies were quickly notified. The Wall Street Journal did not independently verify the audio recording.

A law enforcement official confirmed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the message. The office did not want to comment, but said it “takes all threats of violence seriously for public safety”.

Late Tuesday, the FAA issued a statement saying it was “working closely with federal law enforcement and national security partners on any reported security threats that could affect aviation safety”.

The message is being viewed as an unauthorized transmission by a person who should not have been on the frequency, one person said. At this point, the FAA does not consider the overall security of its communications systems to be a threat.

Investigators are investigating, among other things, the possible use of a portable scanner capable of transmitting and receiving certain government frequencies, including those used for certain air traffic control functions, the person said.

The focus on the integrity of air traffic control messages underscores the FAA’s years-long efforts to change the way most ground-to-air transmissions come from traffic control facilities. The agency is increasingly using digital data connections with enhanced anti-hacking capabilities rather than the predominantly publicly available voice transmission of the current system between individual pilots and controllers.

Write to him Andy Pastor at [email protected]

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