US counter-terrorism officials are assessing a “specific, credible, but unconfirmed” threat of a bombing timed to the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. According to the New York Times, the threat concerns an attack on New York City or Washington, D.C. using a car or truck bomb. An official with the Department of Homeland Security said that American intelligence agencies are in the “early stages” of “urgently pursuing leads overseas in an effort to gauge the seriousness of the threat.” President Obama had been briefed on Thursday morning, and members of Congress later during the day.
With the ten-year-anniversary approaching, the White House has been “scanning intelligence with extra vigilance before the anniversary.” With the new threat, the president has requested that the counter-terrorism community “redouble its efforts.”
Matt Chandler, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, said that a notebook of Osama bin Laden’s found after he was killed made reference to an attack ten years after 9/11 or on another “symbolic date”:
“As we always do before important dates like the anniversary of 9/11, we will undoubtedly get more reporting in the coming days. Sometimes this reporting is credible and warrants intense focus, other times it lacks credibility and is highly unlikely to be reflective of real plots under way.
“We continue to ask the American people to remain vigilant as we head into the weekend.
According to MSNBC, an administration official said that the threat “so far” was a “5 to 6 on a scale of 10.” ABC News says that the C.I.A. has “developed” information in the past 24 hours that “at least three individuals entered the U.S. in August by air with the intent to launch a vehicle-borne attack against Washington, D.C. or New York around the anniversary of 9/11, according to intelligence officials.”
MSNBC also reports that, as a result of the threat, the New York Police Department is stepping up protective measures. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that Ground Zero would be surrounded by a “frozen zone”:
Thousands of cops will be on duty, some carrying radiation detectors and sniper rifles. Extra attention will be given to the subway system, especially Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station and Herald Square.
Hundreds of surveillance cameras will monitor the site.
Kelly said quick-reaction forces will be assigned outside lower Manhattan.
The New York Daily News reports that police and federal officials have conducted bomb sweeps in garages in both New York City and Washington.
At a 9:45 pm press conference, New York City Mayor Bloomberg said that the threat had “not been corroborated and warned against an overreaction.” Noting that he plans to take the subway Friday morning as is his habit, Bloomberg said “The best thing we can do to fight terror is to not let it intimidate us.”
We’ll keep you updated as reports about the threat develop.
Related Care2 Coverage
For more coverage on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, click here.
Photo taken on September 14, 2001, by slagheap