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Saturday, July 31, 2004

ABC News - Big Apple Terror? Sources: Al Qaeda Plotting to Attack New York City Corporations

N E W Y O R K, July 31, 2004 — ABC News has learned that federal and New York City officials have received credible intelligence that al Qaeda has been plotting to carry out suicide attacks on corporations based in the city.

Sources at several law enforcement agencies tell ABC News that an "overseas source" has provided the information about the threat to New York and that it is more significant than the usual "chatter" intercepted from likely terrorists that has prompted warnings in the past.

Officials from dozens of local and federal agencies met into the night Friday and again this morning.

"Intelligence reporting indicates that al Qaeda continues to target for attack commercial and financial institutions, as well as international organizations, inside the United States," the New York City Police Department said in a statement released today on the "ongoing al Qaeda threat."
"The NYPD recommends that corporate and institutional security directors review their protection of HVAC systems, parking installations, and security in general," the statement added. "The alert level for New York City remains unchanged at 'orange' or 'high.'"

Border Worries
Intelligence sources say al Qaeda plans to move non-Arab terrorists across the border with Mexico.
Authorities already have in custody a woman of Pakistani-origin arrested after crossing into Texas. She carried a South African passport with several of the pages torn out, $7,000 in cash and an airplane ticket to New York.

New York is already on heightened alert for the Republican National Convention, which meets at Madison Square Garden in a month and will bring scores of high government officials to town.

The sources tell ABC News that Wall Street firms may be among the targeted U.S. corporations based in New York City. Which corporations or how many may be targeted has not been revealed.

Suicide Truck Bombings
Particularly disturbing to authorities were the intelligence reports that the attack may involve one or more suicide truck bombings, a tactic never seen in the United States, but one widely used by terrorists elsewhere.
"I think they want to try and shake our psyche again," says Jerry Hauer, an ABC News consultant and former director of New York City's Office of Emergency Management. "And I think the easy types of attacks right now are car bombs, truck bombs."
Law enforcement officials acknowledge such bombs are extremely difficult to prevent.
As to the timing of any planned attack, sources say it could take place between now and Election Day in November.
As the government tries to verify the reports of the threat, there are no plans to raise the national threat level, a senior Bush administration official tells ABC News.
ABCNEWS' Pierre Thomas and Bob Jamieson contributed to this report.


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