by Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge on Raising the
05-20-03 The Department of Homeland Security
in consultation with the Homeland Security Council, has
made the decision to raise the national threat level from
an Elevated to High risk of terrorist attack or Level
Orange. The U.S. Intelligence Community believes
that Al Qaida has entered an operational period worldwide,
and this may include attacks in the United States.
In the wake of terrorist bombings in Saudi
Arabia and Morocco, Al-Qaida and those sympathetic to
their cause, are still a principal threat, but threats
may also emanate from other anti-U.S. terrorist groups,
regional extremist organizations, and ad hoc groups or
disgruntled individuals not connected to existing terrorist
organizations or state sponsors of terrorism. While
there is not credible, specific information with respect
to targets or method of attack, the use of tactics similar
to those seen in recent terrorist attacks overseas include
small arm equipped assault teams, large vehicle borne
explosive devices, and suicide bombers. These attacks
underscore terrorists' desires to attack soft targets.
Weapons of mass destruction, including those containing
chemical, biological or radiological agents or materials,
cannot be discounted.
This afternoon, I have spoken to the nation's
Governors through their homeland security advisers and
other state and local officials to relay the increased
threat, and to ask them to review their own current security
measures and deploy additional measures, particularly
going into a holiday weekend where there will be many
large public gatherings. Other state, local and
private sector leaders are also being contacted to engage
their support to increase the nation's security.
For all Americans, we recommend that you
continue with your plans for work or leisure. However,
your vigilance at large public events or other locations
where crowds gather can help us disrupt terrorists' plans.
If you see anything suspicious, do not hesitate
to contact your local FBI office. A visible increase
in security as well as the vigilance of homeland security
professionals at all levels of government and the private
sector and the general public can make a difference and
prevent potential terrorist attacks.