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Ridge issues new security alert

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Citing the "quantity and level" of threats, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge announced Monday a new security alert, warning of the possibility of another terrorist attack within the United States.

"Be vigilant, be aware," Ridge said. He said there was no information on specific targets or dates, but the level of threats monitored by intelligence and law enforcement agencies had increased to the "threshold" point where the administration felt another warning was warranted.

"The decibel level was higher," Ridge said.

He warned Americans about getting complacent.

"Now, obviously, the further removed we get from September 11, I think the natural tendency is to let down our guard. Unfortunately, we cannot do that," Ridge said. "We are a nation at war. We are the targets of enemies who have demonstrated they have no remorse about killing thousands of innocent civilians."

U.S. intelligence sources said the threats came from members of the al Qaeda network against U.S. targets.

The warning is the third such alert government has issued since the September attacks.

Ridge urged Americans to add their eyes and ears to government efforts to track down terrorists, and to report any suspicious activity. He said an FBI threat advisory update had been sent to 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country.

Ridge said there is no "specific connection" between the latest threats and the violence in the Middle East.

"The threats we are picking up are very generic," Ridge said. "They warn of more attacks, but are not specific about where or what type. We do know that the next several weeks, which bring the final weeks of Ramadan and important religious observations in other faiths, have been times when terrorists have planned attacks in the past.

"For example, it was December of 1999 authorities in Jordan, Canada and the United States uncovered and prevented plans for a series of attacks related to the dawn of the millennium. Those plans were thwarted when intelligence learned about them and law enforcement arrested the suspected terrorists."

CNN National Security Correspondent David Ensor and Justice Department Producer Terry Frieden contributed to this report


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