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FBI: Al Qaeda may have probed government sites

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI issued an alert Wednesday to law enforcement agencies across the nation warning officials of uncorroborated information that al Qaeda agents may have been probing Web sites, including some dealing with nuclear information.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Richard Meserve disclosed the existence of the advisory in a speech to the National Press Club Thursday. He said the operatives may have been trying to "gain information" on a variety of different types of facilities, including nuclear power plants. A FBI spokeswoman would only say the bureau did put out an advisory but would not characterize it.

A law enforcement official emphasized the information obtained was uncorroborated and that the alert was issued so authorities would think about "what they put on Web sites."

"This is sort of information that we pass along to our licensees, in case of threat advisories to inform them that this sort of thing is going on," Meserve said. He said the NRC brought down its Web site immediately after the September 11 attacks in case it contained information that "might be of value to terrorists" and that it has been re-tooling its site to make it doesn't inadvertently release information terrorists might want.

"Our licensees have done the same thing in that most of them have screened the Web sites to assure that there is not information that is on the Web site that could be of significant use to a terrorist under attack. But we have this information, it is uncorroborated information, at least in the advisory that it existed last night, and it is the sort of thing you do inform our licensees about through a threat advisory system," Meserve said.

A law enforcement official compared this advisory to the general alerts issued saying they all have the same message to be aware and vigilant.


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