US intercepts 9/11 threat from Al Qaeda operative

September 10th, 2011 - 11:18 am ICT by IANS  

Taliban Washington, Sep 10 (IANS) Amid reports that American spy networks have intercepted communications from an Al Qaeda operative in Pakistan indicating plans for a terrorist strike in New York or Washington, the two cities elevated their security efforts.

The communications come from a source who has provided accurate information in the past, CNN reported citing a senior administration official, prompting intelligence officials to sift through communications from other Al Qaeda cells.

While no other corroborating evidence of an attack has been uncovered, the information indicates the plan, thought to involve a vehicle-borne explosive device, is meant to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the official said.

CNN also cited Intelligence officials as saying they have picked up “chatter,” or widely divergent communications, from extremists that suggest the newly tapped Al Qaeda head, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is in some way involved in the current plot.

CNN said US officials believe that operatives came out of the tribal Pakistan-Afghanistan border region and that they are part of Al Qaeda “central.”

The official also noted a possibility that Pakistan-based groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, held responsible for the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks or Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan could be involved.

Two of the three people suspected to be behind Thursday’s “credible” terror threat against New York could be Americans, sources told NBC News Friday.

But intelligence officials were quick to say that the information about the suspects was vague. They said they believe that two of the suspects were Americans who flew in through Dubai while the other suspect flew in through Europe, or all three might have been smuggled into Pakistan so their travel records wouldn’t be public.

“Al Qaeda again is seeking to harm Americans and in particular to target New York and Washington,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York Friday. “We are taking this threat seriously. Federal, state and local authorities are taking all steps to address it.”

Meanwhile, heightened security was visible Friday in New York and Washington as intelligence officials worked to pin down information about the potential threat and federal and local law enforcement fanned out across both cities.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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