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U.S. at 'high alert' on eve of 9/11

A military police vehicle patrols outside the Pentagon Tuesday.
A military police vehicle patrols outside the Pentagon Tuesday.  

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.

Ashcroft, Ridge
Ashcroft, left, and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge announce the heightened alert.  

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)

Latest developments

Terror warnings system: Color-coded system 
Embassy, consulate closures
A State Department official told CNN that U.S. embassies and consulates in the following locations will be closed to review their "security posture."
  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates **
  • Manama, Bahrain *
  • Phnom Penh, Cambodia ++
  • Jakarta, Indonesia *
  • Surabaya, Indonesia *
  • Lilongwe, Malawi **
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia +
  • All posts in Pakistan **
  • Dushanbe, Tajikistan **
  • Hanoi , Vietnam **
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam **

    + Until further notice
    ++ Through September 13
    * Closed September 10, 11
    ** Closed September 11
  • The Pentagon put U.S. troops in Bahrain, where the 5th Fleet is headquartered, on condition Delta Monday -- the military's highest state of alert. U.S. forces in other parts of the world also have been put on increased alert.
  • Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered air defense systems around Washington armed with anti-aircraft missiles Tuesday. The surface-to-air missile systems were deployed at military installations around the city Monday as part of an exercise and were to have been unarmed.(Full story)
  • CIA Director George Tenet briefed members of the House Intelligence Committee members on the latest terrorist alert.
  • Vice President Dick Cheney was staying at "a secure location" as part of the security precautions. Administration officials said the move was a routine security protocol and there was no evidence of any threat against the president or vice president. (Full story)
  • The U.S. Customs Service has increased scrutiny of people crossing into the country in response to the latest alert, but officials did not expect significant border delays. Officials will check documents more thoroughly and ask more questions at checkpoints.
  • New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said his city is prepared for the September 11 anniversary. New York has been on code orange since the World Trade Center attacks. A police spokeswoman said there would be officers on rooftops and scuba teams patrolling docks and harbors. (Full story)
  • Additional security will be in place Wednesday in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at Ground Zero in New York, where Bush plans to attend anniversary ceremonies.(Full story)


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