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Homeland Security bulletin urges vigilance

Department: Watchful public could stop terrorist attack

From Kevin Bohn
CNN Washington Bureau


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Department of Homeland Security has sent a bulletin warning the operators and owners of various facilities in the United States to be vigilant in the wake of the terror attacks against Westerners in Saudi Arabia this week.

The bulletin said the car-bombing attacks Monday in Riyadh, which killed 25 people -- including eight Americans -- might have been carried out by al Qaeda, a view that has been mirrored in comments from the Bush administration. (Full story)

Although the tactic of carrying out near-simultaneous attacks is not a new one for such groups as al Qaeda, the bulletin said, "... the manner in which these attacks was conducted indicates a more refined capability."

One of the biggest worries to counterterrorism officials considering future attacks is the possibility of truck bombs.

"The Department of Homeland Security believes that a truck bombing by terrorists may be pre-empted if the general public remains alert for certain indicators. DHS has no specific information to indicate that a truck bombing of any kind is currently being planned in the United States," the department said in the seven-page bulletin it sent Thursday.

The facilities covered in the bulletin include civilian, private and commercial buildings. A spokesman for the DHS said thousands of the bulletins were sent to business organizations, state and local governments, and state and local law enforcement agencies. CNN obtained a copy of the bulletin.

"Terrorists continue to select soft targets for attack -- particularly those that will yield a high casualty count," the bulletin said, listing residences, recreational and shopping venues, and business buildings and complexes as examples of soft targets.

Homeland Security officials listed several possible warning signs of terrorist activity, including theft of explosives, blasting caps or fuses; rental of self-storage space for the purpose of storing chemicals or mixing apparatus; the delivery of chemicals from the manufacturer to a self-storage facility; and unusual deliveries of chemicals to residential or rural addresses. It cautioned that each action in itself does not constitute terrorist activity.

The bulletin also recommended measures that could guard against such attacks.

"All available anti-terrorism measures should be rigorously re-examined -- to include: physical security perimeters set back distances between security fences and key buildings, and barricades," the bulletin advised.

It suggested that facility owners and operators stay aware of threats, ensure that personnel are told of any change in threat conditions, and encourage personnel to be alert and report any suspicious activity.


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