U.S. at 'high alert' on eve of 9/11
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. government raised its threat alert status Tuesday to its second highest level -- code orange -- after receiving what officials called "an abundance of credible intelligence" indicating terrorists were planning attacks to coincide with the September 11 anniversary.
It was the first time the threat level had been raised from code yellow since the color-coded system was implemented in March. (Full story)
"The threats that we have heard recently remind us of the pattern of threats we heard prior to September 11," President Bush said at the Afghanistan Embassy in Washington.
"We have no specific threat to America, but we're taking everything seriously," he said.
Senior U.S. officials said Bush decided to raise the threat level after being told there was a significant increase in communication among terrorists and suspected terrorists -- including a discussion about the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said most of the intelligence focused on possible attacks against U.S. interests overseas. (Read transcript)
Al Qaeda cells based in Asia "have been accumulating explosives since approximately January 2002 in preparation for these attacks," Ashcroft told reporters.
He said the potential targets could include the transportation and energy sectors and facilities that are recognized symbols of the United States.
Ashcroft also said intelligence from the Middle East pointed to possible suicide attacks on U.S. interests, but no targets were known.
The State Department has closed several embassies and consulates in Asia, the Middle East and Africa as a result of the intelligence. (Full story)
Several officials said that much of the information came from a senior al Qaeda figure who was the "operative responsible for organizing efforts" in Asia. An FBI official said the Middle East information came from separate sources.
The al Qaeda operative has been in custody in an unidentified country for about two months, officials said, and only recently began talking with authorities. (Full story)
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