U.S. authorities, concerned about a terror attack during this summer’s political conventions, are trying to identify potential extremists inside the country, reports the New York Times. The effort includeds interviews in places where terrorists might seek refuge. Almost half the budgets in each convention city will be spent on security. The Democrats meet in Boston July 26 to 29, the Republicans in New York City Aug. 30 to Sept. 2.
New York is regarded as a higher risk than Boston by counterterrorism officials. “Al Qaeda has unambiguous plans to hit the homeland again,” said James Pavitt, CIA head of clandestine operations, “and New York City, I am certain, remains a prime target.” Pasquale D’Amuro, the head of the New York FBI office, said that nearly all of the more than 1,100 agents in the office, the bureau’s largest, will be involved in security work before the convention. Recent intelligence reports have hinted that an attack might involve relatively crude materials in an uncomplicated operation, suggesting the possibility of a car or truck bomb. Some information has indicated that potential attackers might not be young Arab men, but religious extremists from other countries, possibly in Africa. Investigators have begun to more closely examine visa holders already in the U.S. from places like Somalia, Kenya, and Nigeria. FBI agents are conducting interviews in communities where potential terrorists might seek to blend in with local populations.