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Homeland Security

Seal of the US Department of Justice

Statement of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales at Press Conference regarding British Airline Terror Plot

Washington, DC
August 10, 2006

Let me begin by repeating and emphasizing something that Secretary Chertoff said. And that is we have a very serious investigation that is proceeding in the United Kingdom. And we want to be very, very careful as we try to inform and educate the American public about saying too much that might in any way jeopardize that investigation or a subsequent prosecution.

And so we ask for your patience in asking and receiving information. But we'll try to be as forthcoming as we can, as quickly as we can. But, again, we don't want to do anything that may in any way jeopardize or adversely affect an investigation or prosecution in the United Kingdom or perhaps even in this country.

Now, since 9/11, the threat reporting has consistently shown that there is a vicious and determined enemy that is intent on harming American lives. And every day it's September 12th for those of us tasked with protecting America, and we know that our counterparts abroad feel the same way.

Today's announcement is a true testament to the hundreds of hours of patient work by British authorities. Their vigilance has led to the unraveling of this deadly plot by terror cells based in the U.K., a plot, as Mike indicated, designed to detonate bombs aboard commercial airliners en route to the United States, potentially killing hundreds of innocent people.

On behalf of the American people, I want to thank the British authorities for their tremendous efforts to disrupt this deadly scheme.

Although the law enforcement investigation is ongoing, I want to update you on the preliminary information that we have available at this time. We will, as Secretary Chertoff indicated, continue to provide additional information as it becomes available.

The perpetrators who were arrested overnight were extremists who had gone beyond just stating a desire to kill Americans. Their plotting turned to action as they took several steps to carry out their deadly plan. Their focus appears to have been on the use of liquid explosives. We are still assessing the links to Al Qaida, however, a plot of this sophistication is suggestive of Al Qaida tactics, as Secretary Chertoff mentioned.

From the beginning of the investigation, we have been in constant contact with our counterparts in the U.K. We share the same philosophy of prevention, a sense of urgency to dismantle these terrorist cells before an attack occurs.

The FBI and other law enforcement intelligence agencies have worked closely with our colleagues at MI5 on all aspects of this case, and they have aggressively pursued every domestic lead that has arisen from the intelligence that led to these arrests.

As Secretary Chertoff said, while there is currently no indication of any plotting within the United States, the federal government is taking immediate steps to increase security measures in the aviation sector.

The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the entire intelligence community will continue to aggressively pursue every lead and shred of intelligence that arises from this or any other terrorism case. This has been our practice since 9/11, and today is no different from any other day in that sense. The American people should know that everything that can be done to protect them is being done by law enforcement and intelligence professionals around the country and abroad.

We ask that people continue on with their normal lives, but with some extra patience as the professionals do their jobs, especially at the airports around the country.

As we have stated many times before, we are a nation at war. Today's actions are a stark reminder that the threat is real and that we have a deadly enemy who still wakes every morning thinking of new ways to kill innocent men, women and children, and dreams every night about wrecking the destruction on freedom-loving countries.

Our enemies should know that we are just as equally intent on stopping them. We will continue to work around the clock with our colleagues around the world to dismantle their operations one person at a time.


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