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Near-term threat assessment for coordinated terrorist attack: "Extremely high"

15 May 2007: The threat of a “coordinated, al Qaeda sponsored terrorist attack” against and within the United States is “extremely high,” stated one intelligence source interviewed yesterday by the Northeast Intelligence Network. In particular, there is a “higher than average concern right now, for the time period through the end of May,” including but not specific to the Memorial Day holiday in the U.S. The threat is for planned attacks “possibly like those we saw in the Madrid and London attacks,” a reference to the coordinated terrorist bomb blasts that hit Madrid’s commuter train system on March 11, 2004 and London's public transportation system on July 7, 2005 respectively.

This veteran official, speaking under the customary condition of anonymity, said that despite this growing concern among high-level intelligence officials, he knows of no plans to raise the color-coded threat level in the U.S., and added that American interests outside of the U.S. considered to be at higher risk are already on increased alert status. “The threat obviously lacks the required specificity but warrants increased vigilance inside the U.S. as well as within other [Western] countries.”

When asked what specific information is behind this increased concern, this official said that “there are several key indicators,” but maintained a narrow course of explanation. “The information developed from foreign intelligence sources, fruits of interrogation of certain al Qaeda figures, and other communications” appear to be the major factors in this assessment. “The intelligence surrounding the successful air strike that killed Taliban leader Mullah DADULLAH is also significant beyond the obvious,” he added.

ABC World News reported yesterday that the day before he was killed by U.S. forces, DADULLAH said in a videotaped interview that he was training American and British citizens to carry out suicide missions in their home countries. In the interview conducted by Afghanistan news sources, the now deceased Taliban leader stated, “We will be executing attacks in Britain and the U.S. to demonstrate our sincerity to destroy their cities as they have destroyed our cities.” DADULLAH added that it is “our religious and moral duty to train suicide bombers against the nuclear power of the infidels, and they will be used when they are needed, whether they are one, 10 or 20.”

“We know that al Qaeda has trained and equipped assets inside the U.S., and we believe that some of these assets are at a high level of readiness to execute whatever plans might be in the works in the U.S. There are comparative concerns in Great Britain, France and Germany as well,” he added.

Simplicity might be key

Although al Qaeda continues to demonstrate a high level of interest in the aviation industry, successes in the use of chlorine bombs, truck bombs and traditional explosives should be considered. “The potential for destruction and loss of life in coordinated attacks using such readily accessible materials and conveyances must never be underestimated.” When asked about potential targets or areas of concern, this source confirmed al Qaeda’s quest to deliver “the most bang for their efforts” in terms of mass casualties as well as striking at targets important to our infrastructure and economy. “The same applies to targets overseas,” he added. And, “in the near term,” based on current assessments.