US goes on alert after 9/11 terror threat

Editor’s Note: This latest report invokes Al-Qaeda from Pakistan, plus a suspected U.S. citizen.

No confirmation of threat © AFP Stephen Chernin

AFP

NEW YORK (AFP)  – New York City deployed more police onto the streets and President Barack Obama ordered boosted counterterrorism efforts.after officials warned of the threat of a terror strike on the United States as Americans braced to mourn those killed 10 years ago in the 9/11 attacks.

“There is specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information,” the Department of Homeland Security said.

“We have taken, and will continue to take all steps necessary to mitigate any threats that arise,” the department added in a statement just days before Sunday’s poignant remembrance ceremonies.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters extra police would be deployed at key locations including tunnels and bridges in response to the intelligence reports.

The police department “is deploying additional resources… some of which you will notice and some of which you will not,” Bloomberg said, stressing that there was no confirmation of the reported threat.

The city’s police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, told the press conference that new measures included police “trained in heavy weapons positioned outside of Manhattan to respond citywide.”

Extra shift hours would effectively increase by a third the size of patrols around New York, with checks on ferries, tunnels, bridges and landmarks, Kelly said.

There will be increased towing of illegally parked cars and more bomb detection sweeps in carparks, as well as “increasing the number of bag inspections on the subway,” Kelly said.

In addition, “the public is likely to see and may be somewhat inconvenienced by vehicle checkpoints at various locations.”US media said three people were reported to have entered the country in August and were allegedly seeking to carry out an attack using vehicles — either trucks or cars — laden with explosives.

A US counterterrorism official told the Wall Street Journal that Al-Qaeda militants from Pakistan might be preparing for a string of car-bombings in Washington and New York.

Al-Qaeda has “been knocked back on their heels, but they will try to attack the US any way they can,” the official added.

One of the three suspects was believed to be a US citizen, ABC television said, quoting a senior administration official, and adding the three were thought to have started their journey from Afghanistan and flown into the US.

Two rental trucks, which had been sought in connection with the threat after they were reported missing in Kansas City, Missouri, were found and were not believed to be linked to any plot, the New York Times said.

Although the country has already tightened security ahead of Sunday’s anniversary, Obama had “directed the counterterrorism community to redouble its efforts in response to this credible but unconfirmed information,” a White House official said.

New York Congressman Peter King, who heads the House Committee on Homeland Security, would not confirm any details after lawmakers were briefed about the situation.

But he told CNN “there were very, very specific facts that were made known in this threat.”

“I can tell you that the administration, all levels of law enforcement, federal, state and local where it’s appropriate are checking out every possible lead, running this to ground, and we’ve come a long way since September 11th.”

The FBI refused to comment to AFP about the threat.

It comes as the United States prepares to mark the anniversary of the devastating September 11, 2001 attacks in which almost 3,000 people were killed.



“We continue to ask the American people to remain vigilant as we head into the weekend,” the Department of Homeland Security said.

The announcement came after the Pentagon on Wednesday raised the alert level at bases across the United States as “a prudent and precautionary measure,” given Al-Qaeda’s interest in milestones and anniversaries.

Sunday’s biggest event will be the reading of victims’ names at Ground Zero, which will be attended by victims’ family members, as well as Obama, former president George W. Bush, and Bloomberg.

Although there have been no attacks on the scale of 9/11 in the United States in the 10 years since, the nation has been on heightened alert amid a series of foiled and failed attacks.

Security is a top concern for organizers of the ceremonies with large crowds are expected to gather as the country reflects on a decade of war abroad and fear of further attacks at home.

© AFPPublished at Activist Post with license

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