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Homeland Security

SLUG: 5-53115 U-S Terror Threat










INTRO: New warnings of terrorist threats and the prospect of war with Iraq have put many Americans on edge. National Correspondent Jim Malone has more on the public's growing sense of unease.

TEXT: The warnings from U-S intelligence officials about the growing risk of terrorist attacks are getting more explicit.

C-I-A Director George Tenet provided this sobering assessment for the Senate Intelligence Committee:

/// TENET ACT ///

The intelligence is not idle chatter on the part of terrorists or their associates. It is the most specific we have seen.

/// END ACT ///

F-B-I Director Robert Mueller told the committee that the greatest threat comes from al-Qaida cells operating in the United States that authorities have been unable to identify:


F-B-I investigations have revealed Islamic militants in the United States and we strongly suspect that several-hundred of these extremists are linked to al-Qaida. The focus of their activity centers primarily on fundraising, recruitment, and training. Their support structure, however, is sufficiently well developed that one or more groups could be mobilized by al-Qaida to carry out operations in the United States homeland.

/// END ACT ///

The Wall Street Journal newspaper reports that the country's terror-alert status was raised from "elevated" to "high" last week, in part because of intercepted messages from suspected terrorists that referred to "packages" being delivered to the United States. That term reportedly alarmed U-S intelligence officials because in the past al-Qaida operatives have used the term "packages" as a code for bomb-making materials.

Private security analysts also view these latest warnings with concern. John Parachini (par-uh-KEE-nee) is with the Rand Corporation:


We are collecting information from detainees, from al-Qaida and al-Qaida-affiliated groups, as well as electronic intercepts, their communications with one another. And the combination of those may provide some intersection that suggests that they are planning to do things.

/// END ACT ///

As part of the terror alert system, federal authorities are suggesting that members of the public might want to stock up on supplies in the event of a terrorist attack.

Terrorism expert Harvey Kushner had some suggestions on C-B-S television:

/// EXPERT ACT ///

Like you would for hurricane preparedness or any other type of emergency. Have some basic water, three-days supply, three-gallons of water, standard food.

/// END ACT ///

Apparently, many Americans are taking the warnings to heart, especially those who live in New York City and Washington, targets of the September 11th attacks.

This New York woman told a television call-in program that her family has begun planning for a possible terrorist attack:

/// 1ST CALLER ACT ///

I am really afraid. I have to admit, I am afraid. But we did talk about it and we did come up with this little plan of where we are going to try and meet (in the event of a terrorist attack).

/// END ACT ///

Others find the terror warnings too general and scoff at the preparedness suggestions offered by the Department of Homeland Security on its website:

/// 2ND CALLER ACT ///

There is nothing to do, literally. I mean, you can buy water and batteries, but that is about it.

/// END ACT ///

Home supply stores in New York and Washington report shortages of plastic sheeting and duct tape, items federal officials recommend to seal up a room in the event of a chemical or biological attack.

This sense of unease that many Americans feel is not likely to lift any time soon. Public opinion polls indicate many people believe a terrorist attack is more likely if the United States takes military action against Iraq. (SIGNED)


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