FBI reports steady stream of terror threats

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

From wire reports

WASHINGTON -- The FBI is warning local police and the U.S. utility, banking and transportation industries of a steady stream of threats mentioning New York, Washington and the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

U.S. military bases and diplomatic missions worldwide are also being placed on high alert for the week, officials say. The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta was closed Monday because of a specific threat against it.

The flurry of incoming threats picked up by intelligence sources is challenging the FBI to determine which might be credible. But while officials say they have no specific details of an impending attack, the government is taking no chances.

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Monday the threat of new attacks remains a worry to U.S. officials.

"Anniversaries can be -- not necessarily always -- can be occasions for heightened terrorist activity," Fleischer said. "Just given the fact that it's a one-year anniversary, we're going to be on our toes."

Little extra security

In much of the nation, officials said they do not intend to ratchet up security significantly beyond the precautions already in place.

"We will be on alert, but we don't have any reason to believe we're going to have any special problems," Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street said Monday. Some additional police will be on standby for emergencies but most will follow their usual day-to-day procedures, Street said.

Officials in Chicago, Baltimore and other cities said they did not plan to post extra officers on the streets solely because of the anniversary. For months, their officers have been devoting extra attention to potential terrorist targets identified by the FBI, such as nuclear power plants, water treatment facilities, bridges, tunnels and other places.

"It seems like such a juicy anniversary, but these terrorists play a long-term game," said Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.

Bulletin on Internet

Last week, the FBI posted a bulletin on a Web site and sent a message over a private law enforcement bulletin system advising a state of alert on Sept. 11.

The police bulletin was sent Wednesday, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Web site bulletin was posted by the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center, which assesses threats and passes warnings to local infrastructure companies and agencies. Banks, trucking companies, power companies, utility companies and transportation companies are in the network that the FBI communicates with through Internet bulletins.

Other events mentioned on the Web site as warranting heightened awareness include the Sept. 10-20 U.N. General Assembly session in New York and the Sept. 25-29 World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington.

"A large volume of threats of undetermined reliability continues to be received and investigated by the FBI," the bulletin said. "Several of these threats make reference to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and to New York City and Washington, D.C."

The warnings are based on information from all U.S. intelligence sources, from telephone calls to interviews with detainees at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to a senior law enforcement official.

Information from detainees, most of whom have been out of circulation for months, has proven false before. U.S. officials have said they act on it only when corroborated through multiple sources, but believe advising caution still is necessary.

In the run-up to the Sept. 11 anniversary, U.S. intelligence agencies have detected a marked increase in terrorist "chatter" -- that is, monitored communications and other information used as a barometer of the likelihood of potential attacks.

A recent terror plot in Germany, however, has not been linked to al-Qaida, said a U.S. counterterrorism official, speaking Monday on condition of anonymity. A Turkish man and his American fiancee, arrested last week on suspicion of plotting to bomb a U.S. military base, are thought to have been inspired by Osama bin Laden, but U.S. officials doubt the pair is connected to the organization.

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