9/11 Threat Puts Cities on Alert Top Concern for New York, D.C. -BYLN- by Eileen Sullivan and Lolita C. Baldor Associated Press

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), September 10, 2011 | Go to article overview

9/11 Threat Puts Cities on Alert Top Concern for New York, D.C. -BYLN- by Eileen Sullivan and Lolita C. Baldor Associated Press


WASHINGTON 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 while intelligence officials scrambled to nail down information on a possible al-Qaida strike timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Counterterrorism officials have been working around the clock to determine whether the threat is accurate, and extra security was put in place to protect the people in the two cities that took the brunt of the jetliner attacks killing 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.

Security worker Eric Martinez wore a pin depicting the twin towers on his lapel as he headed to work in lower Manhattan on Friday 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 plans 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.

Late Wednesday, U.S. officials received information about a threat that included details they considered specific: It involved up to three people, either in the U.S. or who were traveling to the country; a plan concocted with the help of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri; a car bomb as a possible weapon and New York or Washington as potential targets.

Counterterrorism officials were looking for certain names associated with the threat, but it was unclear whether the names were real or fake.

Government officials said Friday at least two of the men suspected of being involved in a possible al-Qaida attack to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks are believed to be U.S. citizens or have U.S. traveling documents.

One official said the would-be attackers' primary goal is to set off a car bomb, but if that proves impossible, they have been ordered to find some other way to cause violence. The tipster says the would-be attackers are of Arab descent and may speak Arabic as well as English.

The officials said the tips reached the CIA by way of a long-term source in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region who has proved reliable in the past.

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. …

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9/11 Threat Puts Cities on Alert Top Concern for New York, D.C. -BYLN- by Eileen Sullivan and Lolita C. Baldor Associated Press
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