E’ stata una specifica minaccia del gruppo legato a Bin Laden Al Qaeda (l’Fbi ha catturato un terrorista e scoperto cio’ che aveva sul computer) ad aver spinto domenica la Casa Bianca a innalzare ufficialmente il livello di allarme ad “arancione” (cioe’ elevato), dopo le indiscrezioni di sabato (vedi la news in esclusiva per l’Italia pubblicata da WSI in INSIDER)
Il ministro per la Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, ha spiegato (vedi sotto testo dell’agenzia AP in inglese) che nel mirino dei terroristi islamici ci sono alcune istituzioni finanziarie molte note a New York, in New Jersey e a Washington. Tra i bersagli il New York Stock Exchange (cioe’ Wall Street, la borsa azionaria) il grattacielo Citigroup di Manhattan all’angolo tra 53rd Street e Lexington Avenue, inoltre a Washington i palazzi del Fondo Monetario Internazionale e della Banca Mondiale, e a Newark, in New Jersey, il quartiere generale della Prudential.
Mai le informazioni dell’intelligence sono state cosi’ dettagliate. Perfino la probabilita’ di crollo delle strutture dei singoli palazzi sono state esaminate dai terroristi. Tutti i target si trovano in zone molto affollate: l’obiettivo e’ di provocare il maggior numero di vittime.
US WARNS OF THREAT TO FINANCIAL ICONS
By JENNIFER C. KERR
WASHINGTON (AP) – The federal government warned Sunday of possible terrorist attacks against “iconic” financial institutions in New York City, Washington and Newark, N.J., saying a confluence of chilling intelligence in recent days pointed to a car or truck bomb.
The government said the new intelligence indicated the meticulous planning of al-Qaida. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge identified explosives as the likely mode of attack, as opposed to a chemical or biological attack or a radiological “dirty” bomb.
In an unprecedented action, the government named these specific buildings in densely populated areas as potential targets:
– Citigroup buildings and the New York Stock Exchange in New York City.
– The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank buildings in Washington.
– Prudential financial in northern New Jersey.
“The preferred means of attack would be car or truck bombs,” Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said in a briefing with journalists. “That would be a primary means of attack,” he said.
The government said the new intelligence indicated the meticulous planning of al-Qaida. Ridge identified explosives as the likely mode of attack, as opposed to a chemical or biological attack or a radiological “dirty” bomb.
Ridge said the government’s threat level for financial institutions in just these three cities would be raised to orange, or high alert, but would remain at yellow, or elevated, elsewhere.
The official said the intelligence gathered from several sources included security in and around these buildings; the flow of pedestrians; the best places for reconnaissance; how to make contact with employees who work in the buildings; the construction of the buildings; traffic patterns; locations of hospitals and police departments; and which days of the week present less security at these buildings.
To illustrate the level of detail included in the intelligence, the official cited these examples: midweek pedestrian traffic of 14 people per minute on each side of the street for a total of 28 people; that some explosives might not be hot enough to melt steel; and that the construction of some buildings might prevent them from falling down.
The official said he had not seen such extraordinary detail in his 24 years in intelligence work.
A U.S. counterterrorism official said the threat information is based in large part on documentary evidence obtained by CIA in successful counterterrorist operations, working independently and in concert with other countries. Some other information also played a part in the warning.
Ridge said it would be up to New York City officials to decide whether to move to the highest level, red. The city has remained on orange since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The threat potential remains through the Nov. 2 elections, Ridge said.
The secretary said the government took the unprecedented step of naming particular buildings because of the level of specificity of the intelligence. “This is not the usual chatter. This is multiple sources that involve extraordinary detail,” Ridge said. He said the government decided to notify the public because of the specificity of detail it had obtained.
Ridge acknowledged that protecting these buildings, located in heavily populated areas, would require additional security measures, especially because thousands of cars and trucks travel through these cities daily.
“Car and truck bombs are one of the most difficult tasks we have in the war on terror,” Ridge said.
Local and state officials were notified earlier in the day and Ridge said new security procedures were already being put in place.
The exchange and the Washington institutions were to open for business Monday.
An NYSE spokesman declined comment on security, but increased measures since the Sept. 11 attacks have included barricades on all sides and checkpoints to enter the building. A Citigroup spokesman cited a company e-mail to employees that said they should expect to see tighter security at all of its New York buildings.
In the capital, the FBI, Secret Service and city police will provide additional security. Messages for Prudential officials were not immediately returned.
A White House spokeswoman, Erin Healy, said the intelligence on the threat was “very new, coming in during the last 72 hours.”
“The president made the final decision today agreeing with the recommendation of Secretary Ridge to go ahead and raise the threat level in these select areas,” Healy said.
This was the first time the color-coded warning system had been used in such a narrow, targeted way, Ridge said at a news conference at department headquarters.
“With this kind of information comes action,” Ridge said. “This is sobering news.”
Referring to terrorists who are hostile to the United States, Ridge said, “Iconic economic targets are at the heart of their interest.”
He said workers at the five specific buildings should get guidance from security officers at each site and remain alert as they go to work.
The government’s warning came four weeks before the Republican National Convention in New York, which will draw more than 30,000 people, including top government officials and the president.
Ridge sidestepped a question about whether the convention should go ahead – its main item of business is formally nominating Bush. Ridge said only that New York already operates at an extraordinary level of security and the city would draw additional protective measures from the government as a national security event.
The Democratic National Convention just ended Thursday night in Boston, where nominee John Kerry emphasized his national security credentials. Some Democrats had grumbled last month when the Justice Department announced a higher threat existed in the window through the elections.
An intelligence briefing with federal officials was trying to be arrange for Kerry on Sunday night while he was campaigning in Michigan.