Terror threat to extend through January

Discussion in 'General' started by Bud Head, Dec 23, 2003.

  1. NBC: Terror threat to extend through January
    Officials say al-Qaida operatives may be fully trained airline pilots

    Patricia McDonnell / AP
    Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Police Officer Lawrence Culbert stands watch Monday at Boston's South Station with his bomb-sniffing dog Dick Tracy. FREE VIDEO

    • Code Orange
    Special concern is being focused on rural locations in the East and the Southwest. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports.
    Nightly News

    NBC, MSNBC and news services
    Updated: 2:25 p.m. ET Dec. 23, 2003Authorities raised the terrorist threat assessment over the weekend after new intelligence indicated that operatives of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network, possibly trained and licensed to fly passenger jets, may now be pilots for some foreign airlines, ideally positioning them to carry out suicide attacks, U.S. officials have told NBC News.


    Reinforced cockpit doors intended to thwart hijackers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks would now protect any terrorist pilot at the controls, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

    Authorities would not describe the terror threats in detail publicly, but the U.S. officials told NBC's Jim Miklaszewski that the threat alert would remain at “orange,” or high, through the end of January, which they said was an indication of its seriousness.

    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld underscored that message Tuesday at a Pentagon news briefing.

    "Any time you are asked to do things that you do not normally do at a lower threat level, it costs money and it costs stress," he said. "… People don't do that unless it's a serious situation."

    Al-Qaida may have dirty bomb
    New intelligence indicates that al-Qaida remains intent on attacking large gatherings of people with chemical or biological weapons, officials said. They said law enforcement agencies were looking closely at two rural locations - one in the East and the other in the Southwest - that were believed to be high on the terrorist target list.

    Most troubling, the officials said, were indications that al-Qaida may already possess a radiological weapon, or so-called “dirty bomb.” They did not elaborate.

    Experts said a potent dirty bomb could spread radioactive material for a half-mile in all directions. People in the fallout zone would be bombarded with radiation levels that they would not otherwise be exposed to from natural sources for a full year.

    While a dirty bomb may not be particularly deadly, the psychological impact of such a device could be devastating, experts said.

    The point of a dirty bomb is not mass casualties,” terrorism specialist Roger Cressey, chief of staff for President Bush's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board from November 2001 to September 2002, said in an interview. “It's much more to instill fear and panic into the general population."

    A new potential target emerged Tuesday, when U.S. officials told The Associated Press that they have received information from a credible source about an al-Qaida threat against oil interests in Alaska. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the information had not been fully corroborated but indicated they were treating it seriously and have taken extra security precautions.

    Don't cancel holiday plans, Bush advises
    President Bush urged people Monday to “go about their lives.”

    “Our government is doing everything it can to protect our country,” the president said at a ceremony marking the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah. “American citizens need to go about their lives, but as they do so, they need to know that governments at all levels are working as hard as we possibly can to protect the American citizens.”

    Vice President Dick Cheney sounded the flip side of the administration's be-vigilant-but-remain-calm message in remarks to U.S. troops at McChord Air Force Base near Tacoma, Wash.

    "We've seen the threat level escalated to level orange, and we've done that because we've seen some reporting that leads us to believe it's necessary," he said. "It's a reminder to all Americans that ... we've made major progress against these guys, but they're still out there. They're still doing everything they can to acquire ever deadlier weapons to use against us."


    • Security tightened across U.S.
    Dec. 22: Airports, bridges and other transit hubs ratcheted up security. NBC's Andrea Mitchell reports.
    Today show

    The terror alert upgrade from “yellow,” or “elevated,” followed warnings that al-Qaida could be plotting attacks against the United States during the holidays.

    “The information we have indicates that extremists abroad are anticipating near-term attacks that they believe will either rival or exceed” the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Ridge said Sunday in announcing the change.

    Some of the intelligence information indicated that al-Qaida was seeking to use planes as weapons again, he said. Ridge said the terrorists were “constantly evaluating procedures ... to find gaps in our security posture that could be exploited.”

    U.S. officials have been quietly working with their counterparts in Canada and Mexico on improved security measures after intelligence indicated al-Qaida might attack an international airliner that simply passes over U.S. soil, U.S. officials familiar with recent intelligence said.

    “The information clearly shows they care about getting a hold of airplanes with large fuel supplies in areas with lots of people, and to do it in a way that comes in below our radar screen,” said one senior U.S. official, speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

    Information comes from ‘many sources'
    Ridge said Monday that the alert was changed because of information the United States received from “many sources,” although he said he could not be more specific. “I think over the course of my two-plus years [as head of Homeland Security], there has probably been some reference to just about every major metropolitan area,” he said.

    A U.S. official said on condition of anonymity Sunday that some of the intercepted communications and other intelligence mentioned New York, Washington and unspecified cities on the West Coast. Authorities also are concerned about dams, bridges, nuclear plants, chemical facilities and other public works.

    Thousands of state and local law enforcement agencies have received an FBI advisory urging special notice of potential security upgrades and of sites that could be targets, the official said. Ridge contacted his counterparts in Canada and Mexico about increasing border security.

    Ridge said Monday of intelligence reports: "The volume is up. The quality of the reporting is up. The credibility is there.”

    The State Department also has issued a worldwide caution warning U.S. citizens overseas that they could be terrorist targets. Echoing Ridge, the caution said officials “expect al-Qaida will strive for new attacks designed to be more devastating” than the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Security clampdown at airports

    As a result of the change in threat level, all federal departments and agencies were putting action plans in place and stepping up security at airports, border crossings and ports, Ridge said.

    “Extensive and considerable protections have been or soon will be in place all across the country,” Ridge said. “Your government will stand at the ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to stop terrorism during the holiday season and beyond.”

    And he urged Americans not to disrupt holiday plans. “If you've got travel plans, travel,” he said.

    But despite such marked improvements in security, some in Congress still see holes that could be exploited.

    Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, on Monday called for the Bush administration to step up screening of cargo that is transported on commercial jets, calling it “the most obvious remaining hole in our aviation security system.”

    “As a routine matter, commercial cargo is not physically screened by anyone, even when it is carried on passenger planes,” he said.

    FACT FILE Terror alert levels

    Select an alert level to learn more about the Office of Homeland Security's system as well as recommended responses.
    • Green
    • Blue
    • Yellow
    • Orange
    • Red

    Low risk of terrorist attacks.

    Refine and exercise planned protective measures.

    Ensure emergency personnel receive training.

    Assess facilities for vulnerabilities and take measures to reduce them.

    Guarded condition. General risk of terrorist attack.

    Check communications with designated emergency response or command locations.

    Review and update emergency response procedures.

    Provide the public with necessary information.

    Elevated condition. Significant risk.

    Increase surveillance of critical locations.

    Coordinate emergency plans with nearby jurisdictions.

    Assess further refinement of protective measures within the context of the current threat information.

    Implement, as appropriate, contingency and emergency response plans.

    High risk of terrorist attacks.

    Coordinate necessary security efforts with armed forces or law enforcement agencies.

    Take additional precaution at public events.

    Prepare to work at an alternate site or with a dispersed work force.

    Restrict access to essential personnel only.

    Severe risk of terrorist attacks.

    Assign emergency response personnel and pre-position specially trained teams.

    Monitor, redirect or constrain transportation systems.

    Close public and government facilities.

    Increase or redirect personnel to address critical emergency needs.

    Source: The Associated Press • Printable version

    The color-coded system was last raised to orange May 5. Authorities at the time reported receiving general intelligence that pointed to possible terror attacks in the United States related to bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco that killed dozens of people. The threat level was returned to yellow 11 days later.

    The lowest two levels of the alert system - “green” and “blue” - and the highest - “red,” indicating an imminent threat - have not been used since the system was put in place in March 2002.

    NBC's Jim Miklaszewski in Washington and Robert Windrem in New York, MSNBC.com's Alex Johnson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  2. Anybody who thinks its going to possible for airplanes to get hijacked again is dead wrong and possibly an idiot, and I think "al quaeda" knows the same thing. I really think this is another case of the federal government trying to remind us that they are still in charge. The amount of connections they try and draw between every act of terrorism and al-quaeda has me convinced that al-quaeda is pretty bullshit. They have obviously been heavily crippled, and the focus on one group is basically just a way of ignoring larger international relations problems on a global scale.
    If you're like me and think that the administration let september 11th take place to further their own insane aspirations of total military/economic domination of the world, then a lot of the administration's attitude towards terrorism is pretty strange. Terrorism has gone from becoming a real threat to a phantom danger that is just an excuse for the US to further its own goals. While I do think terrorism is actually going to become a REAL problem pretty soon because of the United State's craay action in the middle east, I don't think the US is actually making the right moves to stop terrorism on any long-term scale. Anybody who thinks that essentially taking on a whole race/religion (Arabs/Muslims) with such an extreme tendency to polarize is a way to create fewer terrorists/radicals is retarded. I think the administration knows that their actions will only lead to enourmously increased resentment against us (it already has), and either they don't care (they already have their oil) or they are eagerly anticipating more terrorist attack (hey, all the more reason to go get MORE oil). What they don't tell you is the only real danger to american society is the detonation of a nuclear warhead(s) inside our cities, and the united states is already edging us towards a world where its more and more likely that will happen. This means either we will start fighting a nuclear war or somebody will become pissed off enough to smuggle a nuclear weapon into our country and set it off. Eventually the threat of nuclear attack will become so large that the united states will have to close off its borders and continue to move towards creating a military state.
    You should know that deep down a lot of these rich old republicans are probably bigots, and it seems to me that many have compulsions and aspirations of literally ruling the world. I blame it on small penises.

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