Almost every day, officials from the FBI and the CIA see new intelligence showing that Al Qaeda and its confederates are determined to attack the U.S. homeland, says Newsweek magazine. Newsweek says that this month U.S. intelligence intercepted chat-room conversations between suspected Qaeda associates about attacks in Texas around the Fourth of July. An operative known only as “Sakr” said the attacks had been planned for a long time and that the terrorists were simply waiting for approval from “the sheik” —a possible reference to Osama bin Laden or another top Qaeda commander. No specific targets were mentioned, but law-enforcement officials believe the objective may be to take out oil facilities or pipelines. Al Qaeda has often talked about attacking the U.S. energy sector as a way to hurt the economy.
Why did Sakr’s warning get attention? Newsweek says that two days before the deadly Casablanca bombings on May 16, he predicted “good news” coming from “Morocco.” He has claimed in his Internet communications that he operates out of a Qaeda camp in Sudan.
In last week’s case of truck driver lyman Faris, Newsweek says that agents moved the Kashmir native between hotel rooms and safe houses and listened in as he phoned friends and associates. Some law-enforcement officials question how erious a threat Faris represented. They wonder if he was meant as a diversion while other, more seasoned operatives plot real attacks.