U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is warning of a “very real potential” for another al-Qaida attack on the United States, the Associated Press reports. “Al-Qaida wants to strike us,” Ashcroft said yesterday on “Fox News Sunday.” They want to “strike us whenever and wherever they can.”
Last week, the U.S. Homeland Security Department told airlines and law enforcement agencies that al-Qaida may attempt suicide hijackings in the coming months. Over the weekend, the departments of State and Homeland Security suspended visa-exemption rules for many foreigners traveling through the United States from one foreign airport to another. They will be required to have visas as they wait for connecting flights.
In another anti-terrorism move, Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge said his agency will have representatives in Saudi Arabia “by the end of this month” to monitor the granting of visas for travel to the United States. Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudis. “We’re not going to replace the State Department officials and the consular affairs officials in Saudi Arabia,” said Ridge on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We will add additional bodies to that screening process.”
Ashcroft said U.S. officials have had significant success in efforts to track suspected terrorists and foil their plans, disrupting more than 100 planned attacks worldwide since Sept. 11, 2001.