A man was taken off a BART train in Oakland this morning after scaring passengers by talking about weapons of mass destruction, an agency spokesman said. BART officers responded at about 9:20 a.m. to the 12th Street Oakland City Center station to a report of a man on a train who was scaring other passengers by saying “you should be aware of weapons of mass destruction,” BART spokesman Linton Johnson said. Another passenger on the train, Michelle King, posted on the microblogging website Twitter that the man was “clapping loudly and talking about WOMD,” a reference to weapons of mass destruction.
The passenger was taken off the train minutes later and was questioned by police, Johnson said. “Fortunately he was harmless,” he said. Johnson said the man “was cooperative, and exercising what he thought was his right to exercise free speech.” He said, “If there’s any message to be had out of this, it’s if you talk about weapons of mass destruction or any type of terrorist activity, think of it like saying the word bomb around airport security.”
BART has bumped up its number of police patrols on trains following the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden last weekend, and is encouraging riders to speak up if they notice any unusual behavior, unattended packages or suspicious activity. The police activity this morning briefly caused delays of about 10 minutes for trains passing through Oakland, but regular train service resumed again as of 10:15 a.m., a BART dispatcher said.
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