- The Washington Times - Friday, October 12, 2001

The FBI yesterday warned Americans that new terrorist strikes inside the United States and against U.S. targets overseas are possible in the next several days.
In a highly unusual public statement, the FBI urged law-enforcement authorities nationwide to be on the "highest alert" and called for all Americans to report "unusual or suspicious" activity.
"Certain information, while not specific as to target, gives the government the reason to believe that there may be additional terrorist attacks within the United States and against U.S. interests overseas over the next several days," the FBI said.
"The FBI has again alerted all local law enforcement to be on the highest alert and we call on all people to immediately notify the FBI and local law enforcement of any unusual or suspicious activity," the statement said.
Meanwhile, the FBI has begun a criminal investigation to discover the source of the anthrax bacteria that killed one man and has been found in two other persons who worked at the Boca Raton, Fla., offices of American Media Inc., which publishes several supermarket tabloids.
Federal law-enforcement authorities said FBI agents have searched the entire Boca Raton complex trying to determine how and where the bacteria was introduced into the building, by whom and why. The investigation has spread nationwide, although no evidence has yet been established to connect the incident to terrorists.
The FBI's warning yesterday was the fifth time the bureau had called for local law-enforcement authorities to be on the highest alert for possible renewed attacks, but it was the first time the warning went directly to the public. It outlined no specific threats.
"We wanted the public to have an accurate understanding of these kind of alerts we're sending to law enforcement," said Justice Department spokeswoman Mindy Tucker. "Americans should go on with their lives. There's no reason Americans should live in panic."
The FBI alert followed by just hours a separate warning issued by Attorney General John Ashcroft, who said that while an intensive investigation by the FBI into the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington had resulted in the arrest of 655 persons, authorities did not believe they had ended the threat of possible new attacks.
"We've got to be vigilant," Mr. Ashcroft said, repeating earlier calls for caution. "I'm going on with my life. I think Americans will with theirs. But they need to be prepared, not panicked."
Mr. Ashcroft, during a round of appearances on the morning news shows, said the Justice Department and law-enforcement officials nationwide were doing everything possible to ensure the safety of citizens in the event of renewed terrorist attacks, although he described the fight against terrorism as "very difficult."
Ms. Tucker declined to say what specific information triggered the FBI warning, noting only that it was classified. She said it was received in the last few days. Over the past several days, the FBI asked managers of water-supply companies, nuclear and electric power plant operators, crop dusters and hazardous-waste haulers, among others, to increase existing security measures.
Meanwhile, the head of the U.S. immigration and Naturalization Service yesterday told a House subcommittee that at least nine of the 19 hijackers who commandeered four aircraft on Sept. 11 for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were in the United States legally at the time of the attacks.
INS Commissioner James Ziglar said four others entered the country legally on visas, although three had overstayed the period of authorized visit. He said INS could not determine the status of the fourth visa on Sept. 11, and was "unable" to locate any immigration records concerning the six other hijackers.
Those in the country legally were Mohamed Atta and Abdulaziz Alomari, aboard American Airlines Flight 11 that crashed into the World Trade Center's north tower; Marwan Al-Shehhi, aboard United Airlines Flight 175 that hit the World Trade Center's south tower; Khalid Almihdhar, Majed Moqed and Salem Alhamzi, aboard American Airlines Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon; and Ahmed Alhaznawi, Ahmed Alnami and Ziad Jarrahi, aboard United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania.
Atta, considered the ringleader, was admitted to the United States as a non-immigrant visitor in July 2001 and was in legal status on Sept. 11. He is believed to have piloted American Airlines Flight 11.
In the ongoing investigation, Mr. Ashcroft said "substantial progress" has been made by federal authorities in freezing the assets of Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, which have in the past been used to finance terrorism. He said "hundreds of millions of dollars" have been stopped that otherwise might have been available to the al Qaeda network.
He also noted that while bin Laden in considered the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington, the federal investigation has a broader target than just al Qaeda. He said the 22 terrorists named Wednesday by President Bush on a "most wanted" list included only 15 members of al Qaeda.
"The kind of assaults that have been inflicted on the United States from Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia to our embassies in Africa to the airline hijackings and all that were referenced in the 22 most-wanted list were not all undertaken by Al Qaeda," he said. "The president has said that terrorism generally is the target here, and we've got to understand the breadth of that objective."
The attorney general also noted that while a number of the 22 terrorists already were included on State Department and FBI "most wanted" lists, the new listing includes a $5 million reward an offering he described as a "pretty big incentive."
"There are a lot of people around the world for whom $5 million would mean a real substantial change in the way they live," he said. "Our chances are improved if people around the world understand the nature and seriousness of terrorism and they also understand that there's a substantial financial reward for turning them in."

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