- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2011

Events scheduled in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks will go forward as planned, despite credible but unconfirmed terrorist threats received by counterterrorism officials, authorities said Friday.

“We want everybody to know that we take these threats very seriously,” Mayor Vincent C. Gray said at a Thursday night press briefing on the threat. “Citizens should know we are taking all the appropriate steps to ensure their safety.”

The Associated Press reported that the threat included information about a possible al Qaeda threat to detonate a car bomb in either Washington, D.C., or in New York City. The AP reported that senior U.S. counterterrorism officials said Friday that authorities have a general sense of who is behind the plot and who may be tasked to carry it out, but they don’t have exact identities yet. They said at least one U.S. citizen is thought to be among the three people that may be involved.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a statement Friday urging Americans to stay vigilant, adding that the department takes any threats, “including the recent specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information, seriously.”

Agencies in both the District and New York City have already been on heightened alert in the days leading up to the tenth anniversary — a date officials have long thought would be an obvious time for an attack. However additional resources are being deployed in both cities since information about the threat was received.

“The public will definitely notice heightened visibility for MPD as well as their federal counterparts in the city,” said Rob Marus, a spokesman for Mr. Gray.

Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that there was no confirmation that anyone had traveled into the U.S. in connection with a terrorist plot, although the tip came from a credible source.

“There’s no certitude,” he said. “The thing we are all most worried about is what they call a ‘lone ranger,’ a lone actor, not some extremely complicated plan like it took to take down the World Trade towers,” said Mr. Biden, who appeared on the trio of network morning TV shows Friday.

The Associated Press reported that U.S. officials said the source of the terror tip indicated that al Qaeda’s new leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, was involved in planning the plot. But the official also said that many in the intelligence community question that and other aspects of the source’s information.

The FBI was continuing to investigate the threat information on Friday.

The nation’s terror alert level has not changed, although raising it was under consideration Thursday night.

The White House said President Obama had no plans to change his scheduled trips to New York’s ground zero, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa., on Sunday to mark the anniversary.

In New York City, authorities were stopping vehicles at the 59th Street Bridge Friday, causing a major traffic backup. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said police there were deploying additional resources around the city but that New Yorkers should go about their business as usual, and the city’s observance of the attacks will go on as planned.

Leave was restricted over the weekend for Metropolitan Police Department officers in the District and there will be an extra police presence around the city, MPD Chief Cathy L. Lanier said.

“We have a very robust plan,” she said.

Employees of other District agencies, such as the Department of Transportation, have also been instructed to keep an eye out for suspicious activity as they report to work in the coming days.

“They’re going to be hyper vigilant of any suspicious vehicles,” Mr. Marus said.

Officials in the District asked residents to stay alert throughout the weekend and to report anything that appears out of the ordinary by calling either 311 or 911.

This article was based in part on Associated Press reports.

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