02 August 2004
Details Provided on Raised Threat Level for Financial Sectors
Homeland Security Report, August 1: Code Orange
Calling the new information "chilling" in scope, senior U.S. intelligence
officials provided more details on the intelligence that led the
Department of Homeland Security to raise the threat level for the
financial-service sectors of New York City, northern New Jersey,
and Washington to "Code Orange" (high risk of terrorist attacks).
The officials, speaking on background August 1, said the "specific
and credible" information regarding al-Qaida's plans to attack
the United States included materials showing:
-- security procedures at specific buildings;
-- the types of security personnel at different posts and whether
or not they are armed;
-- the presence of security officers at various times of day and
the kind of uniforms they wear;
-- the number of employees in buildings, as well as traffic and
pedestrian patterns and the different types of shops, businesses
and other facilities nearby;
-- nearby locations where one could obtain different points of
reconnaissance in order to get full information on the targets;
-- information regarding potential escape routes for perpetrators
Other specific material, they said, discussed suitable bombing
materials for different buildings and provided information on the
structure of their underground parking facilities -- including
the degree of entrance incline -- and configuration of parking
lots. Details also were provided on good places to go to meet employees
and where to go to acquire additional information.
A senior official said it gave him the same feeling "one would
have if one found out that somebody broke into your house ... looking
for ways to attack you."
"Today's news," an official said, "is both a cause for concern
as well as clear evidence of success in the war against terrorism" noting
that even though the government frequently uncovers such material
while investigating an attack that has occurred, this time the
information was obtained before any attacks took place.
They called the latest intelligence "pieces of a jigsaw puzzle" that
are bringing al-Qaida into clearer focus for the law enforcement
agencies and said the indications were that "this has been a very
long standing effort on the part of al-Qaida, dating from before
9/11" and built upon since.
Although refusing to give details of where the information came
from, they did say it was fresh and the result of cooperation between
intelligence and law enforcement within the United States and among
other nations. "In addition to what is publicly characterized as
chatter," one official explained, "we have a whole, a growing wealth
of information -- whether it be from human sources, technical sources,
but also documentary sources ..."
When asked if it was possible the recently obtained information
was old, an official responded, "We acquire over the course of
time information that dates sometimes pre-9/11, sometimes post-9/11,
but I think what we've seen over the course of time indicates that
al-Qaida remains focused on the United States, the brass ring,
and what we have seen of late does nothing to tell us otherwise."
The intelligence, they said, is still developing with additional
information "likely to come into our hands in the next few hours
and days and weeks" and would be shared with appropriate local
law enforcement communities.
Americans must keep in mind, they added, that "protection and
response are local issues" and that "the American people, in fact,
have to pull together on this one [vigilance against terrorist
attacks] to secure our nation."