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Archive for Friday, July 9, 2004

U.S. warns of terror plot before election

July 9, 2004

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— Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced Thursday that al-Qaida was "moving forward" with plans for a "large-scale attack" in the United States aimed at disrupting the November elections.

Ridge told reporters he doesn't know when, where or how an attack would occur, and said he was not raising the color-coded threat level.

His comments echoed an announcement May 26 by Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft that al-Qaida "plans to attempt an attack on the United States in the next few months."

Responding to Ridge, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said hours later, "There is no new information." He added, "Nothing in today's announcement from Homeland Security causes us to change our posture."

A senior U.S. intelligence official who briefed reporters hinted that New York remained a target because of "strong indications that al-Qaida will continue to try to revisit past targets -- those that they were able to attack as well as those they were unable to attack."

Al-Qaida struck the World Trade Center twice and planned in 1993 to bomb the United Nations, the Hudson River tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and the FBI's New York City office. The plot was foiled and 10 people were convicted in 1995.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said al-Qaida was inspired by the political aftermath of the bombing of four commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people in March. Three days later, Spanish voters ousted the party that had supported the Iraq war.

Kelly said city police had made adjustments, mostly to better protect transit systems.

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