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Port visit for U.S. warship diverted after terrorist threat

truman
The aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman  

In this story:

Signs of increased terrorist activity

Suspect in Cole bombing identified

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman canceled a port visit to Naples, Italy, when the threat of terrorist attack forced stepped-up security measures, CNN has learned.

Officials increased the threat condition in Naples to the military's second-highest state of alert, CNN learned Tuesday.

In addition, some Navy personnel in the southern Italian city have been moved from vulnerable off-base housing to more secure locations, and security has been visibly increased at the NATO base there.

Navy personnel also have been advised to wear civilian clothes in public until the threat assessment changes.

U.S. Defense Department threat conditions
Threatcon Normal -- No threat of terrorist activity is present.

Threatcon Alpha -- There is a general threat of possible terrorist activity against installations, building locations, and/or personnel, the nature and extent of which are unpredictable.

Threatcon Bravo -- There is an increased and more predictable threat of terrorist activity even though no particular target has been identified.

Threatcon Charlie -- An incident has occurred or intelligence has been received indicating that some form of terrorist action is imminent.

Threatcon Delta -- A terrorist attack has occurred or intelligence has been received that action against a specific location is likely.

Signs of increased terrorist activity

The decision to divert the Truman and take the other steps was based on U.S. intelligence reports suggesting increased terrorist activity in the area, according to officials who asked that they not be identified.

The stepped-up security measures in Naples were implemented Friday, according to officials who said the decision to divert the Truman to a port visit in Greece rather than Naples was made over the weekend.

U.S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen was aboard the Truman on Saturday for a USO show and to take part in a Fox Sports football show that was taped aboard the giant warship.

"There was a level of (suspicious activity) in the region that caused an increase in concern," one Defense Department official told CNN.

He said the measures taken were "prudent" and were not "cause for alarm."

"We get these kinds of threats all the time," he said. But he acknowledged that the terrorist attack on the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen in October had heightened sensitivities to threats of terrorist attack.

The aircraft carrier will make a port visit in Souda, Greece, with its crew of about 5,000, before sailing to the Persian Gulf to provide aircraft to the ongoing enforcement of the southern no-fly zone in Iraq.

The United States and Britain have enforced no-fly zones in Iraq since the end of the Persian Gulf War to protect Shi'ite Muslims in the south and a Kurdish enclave in the north from possible attacks by Baghdad troops.

Iraq says the allied patrols are illegal violations of its airspace.

Suspect in Cole bombing identified

Meanwhile, U.S. and Yemeni officials released the name on Tuesday of a suspect in the October 12 suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Aden harbor.

The suspect, identified as Yemeni national Hussan Saeed Awad Al-Khamri, was the man in glasses who was described by a boy as having launched the boat used in the attack that killed 17 U.S. sailors and wounded 39 others, the officials said.

Yemeni police have a picture of the man that was received when he registered the boat, but they have not released further details about him.

Authorities in that country have questioned dozens of possible suspects in the attack, including at least six who are still being held pending a trial that could start as early as next month.

Other key suspects remain at large, including the alleged planner of the bombing, an explosives expert who is believed to have fled to safety in Afghanistan.

That man is a Saudi citizen of Yemeni origin named Mohammed Omar Al-Harazi, known to U.S. intelligence officials as Abdul Rahman Hussein al-Nashari.

CNN National Security Producer Chris Plante and National Security Correspondent David Ensor contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Cash offered, new strategy pushed in U.S. fight to foil terrorism
December 14, 2000
Attack on U.S. ship signals new wave of terror
October 12, 2000
Senate votes to allow compensation for terror victims, re-authorizes Violence Against Women Act
October 11, 2000
U.S. panel says more must be done to combat terrorism
June 5, 2000
CIA director cites strong links among terror groups
February 2, 2000

RELATED SITES:
America at War: USS Harry S Truman
U.S. State Department, Response to Terrorism
Counter-Terrorism - Terrorism and Security Information

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