Intelligence suggests that al-Qaeda terrorists have a keen interest in striking targets far from major cities, such as power plants, dams, and oil facilities in Alaska, USA Today reports. The Pentagon is broadening air patrols around the country. The military is deploying surface-to-air missile systems in the Washington, D.C., area and may locate more anti-aircraft systems in the New York City region, a Defense Department official said.
Some of the intelligence that led the Bush administration to put the nation on high “orange” alert for a terror strike dealt with general threats against remote facilities. Other intelligence points to possible attacks in cities such as New York, Washington, or Los Angeles. Aircraft continue to be a favored al-Qaeda method, particularly aircraft originating overseas and those carrying cargo. Officials say there also seems to be interest in targeting holiday events that draw large crowds, such as college and professional football games and New Year’s celebrations and parades.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the government acted appropriately in raising the terrorism risk level.”You do not do it lightly,” he said. “You ask, ‘Is it serious?’ Yes, you bet your life.”
Prompted by the national orange-level alert, security at Los Angeles International Airport is up to its highest level since Sept. 11, 2001. No curbside drop-off or pickup will be permitted through Jan. 4, a measure Mayor James K. Hahn called a precaution. All private cars will be diverted into central parking lots and banned from stopping at the curbs.
The Los Angeles Times said that federal grand jury subpoenas have been issued for local transportation companies as part of the FBI’s nationwide investigation into the latest threat of al-Qaeda attacks. “We are concentrating on trying to get ahead of any attack,” one official said.
With concerns raised on the federal level that terrorists were trying to infiltrate foreign flight crews, airport spokesman Paul Haney said some members of foreign flight crews arriving at LAX were being checked closely by federal inspectors.