Fears of a new terrorist threat to mark the tenth anniversary of 9/11 are rising as counterterrorism officials said Thursday they are investigating a “credible but unconfirmed” terror threat involving New York or Washington. No evidence of the new threat, reportedly received on Wednesday, has been made public, but authorities are looking for three men of “middle-eastern descent” in a van.
Anonymous officials have told the press that Obama ordered the counterterrorism community to redouble its efforts in response to the threat, which was said to be “very, very specific.”
Separately, Homeland Security officials have noted “lots of chatter” on “jihadi websites about an impending attack, but nothing credible enough to issue a threat advisory. “Lots of chatter” doesn’t elicit lots of confidence that the spy centers monitoring millions of communications can efficiently gather intelligence.
Concern about another attack this weekend surfaced months ago, partly due to the heightened awareness of the possibility of an attack because of the rather arbitrary importance people place on anniversaries, and partly due to unspecified reports that evidence seized in the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound contained ideas about a tenth anniversary attack.
New York is said to be the probable high value target, where thousands of extra police are on duty and where Obama is scheduled to visit the ground zero site. Three times a day “surges” take place across New York in an emergency exercise in which dozens of police vehicles from every precinct converge on a designated location at high speed. This is reported to be in part a show of strength.
Indeed, its possible the anonymous leaking to the press of the White House’s receipt of a specific, credible, but unconfirmed threat serves the same purpose as the NYPD “surges” – to let on that they’re aware of it in the hopes that such an attack might be called off. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly says the city has its own army, navy, and even tanks.
For now, Americans won’t know the truth. They will be told, as Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said, to ignore it: “There were very, very specific facts that were made known in this threat. I would tell people right now to go about their lives. There’s no need to panic. We don’t know if this threat is real yet. It’s being tracked down.”