Biden on Terror Threat: Credible Source But No 'Smoking Gun'

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Biden on Terror Threat: Credible Source But No 'Smoking Gun'

Post by Dr. Manhattan on Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:04 am

Biden on Terror Threat: Credible Source But No 'Smoking Gun'

9/11 Terror Threat Puts N.Y., D.C. on High Alert

By BRIAN ROSS (@brianross) , RHONDA SCHWARTZ, RICHARD ESPOSITO, PIERRE THOMAS (@PierreTABC) , JASON RYAN (@JasonRyanABC) and MATTHEW COLE
Sept. 9, 2011

Vice President Joe Biden said today that while intelligence on a potential terror plot against New York City or Washington, D.C., came from a credible source, it has not been confirmed and there is "no certitude" an attack has been planned.

Biden said he and President Obama had been briefed on intelligence developed by the CIA in the last 48 hours that three men may have entered the country with the intent to launch a vehicle-bomb attack on the homeland.

"We do have talk about using a car bomb. We've been told that was an intention... from a credible source," Biden said on "Good Morning America." "But we do not have confirmation of that."

"We don't have a smoking gun," he said.

WATCH: Biden Talks Terror on 'GMA'

READ: George Stephanopoulos on Vice President Biden

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security sent a bulletin out to law enforcement agencies across the country late Thursday warning against the potential plot by al Qaeda surrounding the tenth anniversary of Sept. 11 to "avenge Osama bin Laden's death."

Although authorities said they had not yet identified the suspects, they are looking at multiple names of individuals who entered the U.S. after mid-August. The operatives are believed to have embarked on their journey to the U.S. from the tribal areas of Pakistan, according to two senior officials. One official said the route may have taken them through Dubai. The threat information was obtained recently and originated from overseas sources -- Pakistan, according to one official.

Intelligence and law enforcement officials told ABC News that at least one of the individuals is a U.S. citizen and one official said that two of the individuals may have had U.S. documentation -- whether green cards or passports was unclear.

The information on the plot was "very specific" said one official, adding, "It seems like the information has been worked for a while."

Officials told ABC News Thursday the alleged terror plot was initiated by new al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's successor, who had pledged to avenge bin Laden's death earlier this year at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs.

"As we know from the intelligence gathered from the Osama bin Laden raid, al Qaeda has shown an interest in important dates and anniversaries, such as 9/11. In this instance, it's accurate that there is specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information," Department of Homeland Security spokesman Matthew Chandler said in a statement Thursday.

But while the FBI, CIA and other federal agencies rush to identify the men linked to the potential plot, several officials in addition to Biden emphasized that the information has not been confirmed.

"Credible means this is something they've been expecting, something that could happen," former White House counter-terrorism advisor and now ABC News consultant Richard Clarke said on "GMA". "Unconfirmed means they have one source... Sometimes people make up stories and pass them on to the CIA in great detail."

In New York, police commissioner Ray Kelly announced Thursday evening police would be deploying additional bomb-sniffing dogs, radiation detection equipment and random vehicle checks beginning Friday morning. There also will be stepped up bag searches, towing of illegally parked cars and increased police presence on the ferries, Kelly said.

Initially, one official added that at least two rental trucks -- one from Penske and one from Budget -- were being sought nationwide. Those trucks have since been recovered and appear to have had no connection to the plotters.

In Zawahiri's most recent video, last month, he called for his followers to focus on the U.S.

"Hunt her down wherever you may encounter her. Hunt her down to cut what is left of her corruption's tail," Zawahiri says in the video.

"We know from Bin Laden's own handwriting he wanted to do an attack around the anniversary," said Clarke. "We know from his successor's own audio tapes and video tapes that he feels he has to prove al Qaeda is still alive by avenging bin Laden's death. And we know that this kind of technique could be relatively easily done, even by an al Qaeda that's on the ropes, even by an al Qaeda that has very few people left."

Aaron Katersky and Lee Ferran contributed to this report.

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Re: Biden on Terror Threat: Credible Source But No 'Smoking Gun'

Post by Shirley on Sat Sep 10, 2011 9:53 am

Two Terror Suspects May Be US Citizens

By EILEEN SULLIVAN and KIMBERLY DOZIER Associated Press
WASHINGTON September 10, 2011 (AP)

Al-Qaida may have sent American terrorists or men carrying U.S. travel documents to launch an attack on Washington or New York to coincide with memorials marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11, government officials say.

One U.S. official says al-Qaida dispatched three men, at least two of whom could be U.S. citizens, to detonate a car bomb in one of the cities. Should that mission prove impossible, the attackers have been told to simply cause as much destruction as they can.

Word that al-Qaida had ordered the mission reached U.S. officials midweek. A CIA informant who has proved reliable in the past approached intelligence officials overseas to say that the men had been ordered by newly minted al-Qaida leader Ayman al Zawahri to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks Sunday by doing harm on U.S. soil.

The tipster says the would-be attackers are of Arab descent and may speak Arabic as well as English. Counterterrorism officials were looking for certain names associated with the threat, but it was unclear whether the names were real or fake.

Counterterrorism officials have been working around the clock to determine whether the threat is accurate, but so far, have been unable to corroborate it, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation.

In the meantime, extra security was put in place to protect the people in the two cities that took the brunt of the jetliner attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon a decade ago. It was the worst terror assault in the nation's history, and al-Qaida has long dreamed of striking again to mark the anniversary. But it could be weeks before the intelligence community can say whether this particular threat is real.

Undaunted by talk of a new terror threat, New Yorkers and Washingtonians wove among police armed with assault rifles and waited with varying degrees of patience at security checkpoints Friday.

Security worker Eric Martinez wore a pin depicting the twin towers on his lapel as he headed to work in lower Manhattan where he also worked 10 years ago when the towers came down. "If you're going to be afraid, you're just going to stay home," he said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, too, made a point of taking the subway to City Hall.

Briefed on the threat Friday morning, President Barack Obama instructed his security team to take "all necessary precautions," the White House said. Obama still planned to travel to New York on Sunday to mark the 10th anniversary with stops that day at the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.

Washington commuters were well aware of the terror talk.

Cheryl Francis, of Chantilly, Va., said she travels over the Roosevelt bridge into Washington every day and doesn't plan to change her habits. Francis, who was in Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, said a decade later the country is more aware and alert.

"It's almost like sleeping with one eye open," she said, but she added that people need to continue living their lives.

The intelligence community regularly receives tips and information of this nature. But the timing of this particular threat had officials especially concerned, because it was the first "active plot" that came to light as the country marked the significant anniversary, a moment that was also significant to al-Qaida, according to information gleaned in May from Osama bin Laden's compound.

The U.S. government has long known that terrorists see the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and other uniquely American dates as opportunities to strike. Officials have also been concerned that some may see this anniversary as an opportunity to avenge bin Laden's death.

Britain, meanwhile, warned its citizens who are traveling to the U.S. that there was a potential for new terror attacks that could include "places frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers."

Acutely aware of these factors, law enforcement around the country had already increased security measures at airports, nuclear plants, train stations and more in the weeks leading up to Sept. 11. The latest threat, potentially targeting New York or Washington, prompted an even greater security surge in those cities. U.S. embassies and consulates abroad had also boosted their vigilance in preparation for the anniversary.

At Penn Station in New York, transit authority police carried assault rifles and wore helmets and bullet proof vests as they watched crowds of commuters. Police searched passengers' bags as they entered the subway, and National Guard troops in camouflage fatigues moved among riders, eyeing packages.

In Washington, Police Chief Cathy Lanier warned that unattended cars parked in suspicious locations or near critical buildings and structures would be towed.

Speaking in New York, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there was "a specific, credible but unconfirmed report that al-Qaida, again, is seeking to harm Americans and in particular, to target New York and Washington."

———

Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor, Christopher Hawley, Colleen Long and Samantha Gross in New York, Ben Feller, Jessica Grescko, Matthew Lee, and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.

———

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