Monday, August 13, 2007

Israeli security agencies: No credible threat to NYC

Al-Qaida chatter warns of 'something spectacular,' but no timetable or specifics, information conflicting
Posted: August 13, 2007
6:09 p.m. Eastern
By Aaron Klein
© 2007

JERUSALEM – Israeli security agencies that monitor al-Qaida chatter are not aware of any credible threats indicating a radiological attack against New York or any other U.S. city, security sources told WND today.

The sources said there has been some talk on al-Qaida forums that have proven reliable in the past of "something spectacular" against U.S. interests, but they said the analyzed chatter did not present a timetable or any specific threats and was missing indicators normally associated with credible threats. They said some of the intercepted chatter was conflicting.

The security officials were responding to a much-publicized warning on Friday by the Jerusalem-based DEBKAfile website citing Internet chatter suggesting al-Qaida would use trucks loaded with radioactive material or "dirty bombs" to attack New York. DEBKA also mentioned Los Angeles and Miami as possible targets for dirty bomb attacks.

DEBKA's warning followed a video released last week featuring an American member of al-Qaida threatening U.S. interests in the Middle East, including foreign diplomats and embassies across the Islamic world.

In response to DEBKA's posting, which was splashed on the cover of the popular New York Daily News, New York officials immediately beefed up security, deploying police units with extra radiological sensors on street, water and air patrols, and instructed officers to stop vehicles at checkpoints in lower Manhattan and around the city.

Today the New York Police Department returned its level of alertness to normal.

NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne was unapologetic about putting the city in an uproar following DEBKA's cited material.

"Until the unverified threat was fully vetted, it demanded a rapid response," Browne said. "There were no doubts or panic about the NYPD's response."

A number of media reports this weekend called DEBKA's reliability and track record into question, citing previous DEBKA posts that were inaccurate and quoting security analysts questioning DEBKA's credibility.

"I don't take DEBKA seriously as a reliable source ... but there are people who take it seriously, and that's what makes it dangerous," Boaz Ganor, an Israeli anti-terror expert, told the Associated Press.

DEBKAfile founder Giora Shamis defended his site's report.

"There was definitely a sentence in the warning that referred specifically to New York," Shamis told Israel's Channel 10.

Israeli security sources speaking to WND declined to comment on the credibility of DEBKA, but said Israeli security agencies do not have any specific credible information about an al-Qaida radiological attack in New York or in any other U.S. city.

The sources said there has been general chatter on the Internet and through other means of al-Qaida communication warning of "something spectacular," but they said some of the information and chatter analyzed were conflicting and lacked certain indicators present in talk linked to previous attacks.

Also, Homeland Security Department spokesman Russ Knocke told reporters his agency had no credible information indicating an imminent attack.

"We are closely monitoring the situation," said Knocke. "There continues to be no credible information telling us that there's a threat to the homeland at this time."

And an FBI spokesman said there was no credible threat.

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