- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Law-enforcement and intelligence agencies are on alert for terrorist attacks during the Thanksgiving holiday, but they have not received specific, credible threats, U.S. officials said yesterday.
A threat to shoot down a U.S. airliner was recently called in to a government tip line, but the information was determined to be bogus, one federal official said.
Another official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said there were recent threats of attack, specifically for Friday and Monday. Both those dates passed without incident.
Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House Office of Homeland Security, said there were no plans to raise the national threat alert status, which is at the "elevated" yellow level.
"While we remain concerned about the general threat situation, there are no credible, specific threats related to the upcoming holiday season," Mr. Johndroe said.
The Transportation Security Administration, he said, will be "fully staffed" through the holiday season.
"We remain concerned for [the] potential for terrorism in the U.S.," Mr. Johndroe said. "People should report any suspicious activity to local police."
David Steigman, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, said his agency does not discuss specific security or intelligence information about threats.
But airport security has been alerted to be on guard during the holidays, he said.
"Our screeners have been told to be particularly alert simply because this is the largest travel season of the year," Mr. Steigman said.
National security officials have issued several recent alerts about threats of terrorist attacks. The FBI sent a warning to law-enforcement agencies Oct. 24 saying al Qaeda terrorists were targeting railroad lines. The warning was prompted by information that suspected terrorists were observed conducting surveillance of a major rail hub in Denver.
Detained al Qaeda members have also revealed that the group planned to attack passenger trains, possibly using operatives with a Western appearance.
U.S. intelligence agencies have also received recent warnings that oil facilities have been targeted, specifically port terminals and oil refineries in Philadelphia; Corpus Christi, Texas; and Valdez, Alaska.
Additional terrorism threats were sent to law-enforcement agencies last week, warning that terrorists may be targeting U.S. ships.
Several intelligence and security officials said they are concerned that terrorists are putting out false information designed to test the U.S. warning systems.
Terrorists, officials said, may be trying to find ways to conduct a surprise attack. They also may be sending false alarms about an impending attack to lull government agencies into complacency.
"I'm beginning to think that this is a deliberate deception effort" on the part of terrorists, one intelligence official said.


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