World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


CIA: Threat Info 'Most Specific to Date'


CIA Chief Tenet: Threat Info 'Most Specific to Date'

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2003 -- The information that prompted national security leaders to raise the nationwide threat level to "high" last week is the "most specific we have seen," Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet said today.

"The intelligence is not idle chatter on the part of terrorists and their associates," Tenet told members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The threat level was raised in response to specific information that points to plots for terrorist attacks as soon as mid-February, in conjunction with the end of the Muslim holy period of Haj.

The plots involve two main areas, the United States and within the Arabian Peninsula and could involve "the use of a radiological dispersal device as well as poisons and chemicals," Tenet said.

He credited improvements made in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with providing an enhanced awareness of al Qaeda operations. In this case and others like it, he said, raising the threat level is the right thing to do for many reasons.

"Enhanced security that results from a higher-level threat can buy us more time to operate against the individuals who are plotting to do us harm," Tenet said. "And heightened vigilance generates additional information and leads."

Intelligence and law enforcement assets have made considerable strides in the war on terrorism. Tenet noted one-third of the top al Qaeda leadership identified before the war has been killed or captured, "including the operations chief of the Persian Gulf area who planned the bombing of the USS Cole; the key planner who was Mohammed Atta's confidant and conspirator in the 9-11 attacks; a major al Qaeda leader in Yemen; and key operatives and facilitators in the Gulf area and other regions including South Asia and Southeast Asia."

More than 3,000 suspected al Qaeda operatives have been detained worldwide, with more than 100 countries involved in the captures.

"Al Qaeda's loss with Afghanistan, the death and capture of key personnel and its year spent mostly on the run have impaired its ability, complicated its command and control, and disrupted its logistics," Tenet said. "That said, … the continuing threat remains clear: Al Qaeda is still dedicated to striking the U.S. homeland, and much of the information we've received in the past year revolves around that goal."

More than 600 people around the world died in terrorist attacks last year, including more than 200 from attacks by al Qaeda. Terrorists struck tourists in Bali, Indonesia, and Mombasa, Kenya; U.S. Marines in Kuwait; and a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen.

The director spoke of "disturbing signs" al Qaeda is regrouping in Iran, Iraq and the hinterlands along the Afghan-Pakistani border.

"We know from the events of Sept. 11 that we can never again ignore a specific type of country: a country unable to control its own borders and internal territory, lacking the capacity to govern, educate its people or provide fundamental societal services," he said. "Such countries can, however, offer extremists a place to congregate in relative safety."

Al Qaeda is likely to seek targets that will achieve multiple objectives, such as striking national landmarks, inflicting mass casualties and causing economic disruption, he said. But even if they don't find an opportunity for a major attack, the terrorists are likely to attack "softer" targets, or those with less security.

Al Qaeda is also "developing and refining new means of attacks," including using surface-to-air missiles, poisons, and air, surface and underwater methods to strike maritime targets.

"This latest reporting underscores the threat the al Qaeda network continues to pose to the United States," Tenet said. "The network is extensive and adaptable. It will take years of determined effort to unravel this and other terrorist networks and stamp them out."

Also testifying at today's hearing were FBI Director Robert Mueller and Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, USN, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>

ALSO:


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>

ALSO:

Mexico: Violence And Repression Of Teachers

The member organizations of Network for Peace express our indignation over the acts of repression that the Mexican State has carried out, through the police forces... In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, the conflict has resulted in murders of teachers and civilians as well as hundreds of wounded and dozens of people arrested. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news