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U.S. warns al Qaeda could attack soon

Concerns follow recent terrorist bombings overseas

Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for Thursday's two suicide bombings in Istanbul, Turkey.
Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for Thursday's two suicide bombings in Istanbul, Turkey.

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There are warnings that al Qaeda may be plotting to hit U.S. interests soon.
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Insurgents launch rocket attacks against the Iraqi Oil Ministry and a heavily guarded hotel.
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Blair and Bush reaffirm their joint commitment in the fight against terrorism.
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Acts of terror
Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The federal government issued a public statement late Friday to warn of potential terrorist attacks as the Muslim religious holiday Ramadan comes to an end early next week.

The statement, issued by the Department of Homeland Security, says recent terrorist bombings overseas have prompted concern for potential terrorist threats "to the United States and abroad."

The national terrorism alert level will remain at yellow, signifying an "elevated" threat.

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI also issued a private advisory detailing the latest threat concerns to state and local law enforcement as well as to security personnel responsible for what they call critical infrastructure and other potential targets.

The Department of Homeland Security said it remains concerned about al Qaeda's continued interest in aviation, including using cargo jets to carry out attacks on critical infrastructure, as well as targeting facilities containing hazardous materials.

Meanwhile, a new U.N. report identifies a shifting of al Qaeda's strategy toward "softer," nonmilitary targets, and warned the group is working toward a biological or chemical attack.

The report by the Al Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee also found that members of al Qaeda most likely possess portable surface-to-air missiles and may use them to target military transport planes. (Full story)

The terror network may now move away from targeting commercial air transport because of heightened security at airports, said Heraldo Munoz, the Chilean ambassador to the United Nations and head of the sanctions committee.

The terror network may try to target sea routes, "ports, seaports" and may be "looking for targets of opportunity," Munoz said.

The report, which has not been made public, also identifies Iraq as "fertile ground" for al Qaeda, which receives the "funds it needs from charities, deep-pocket donors, and business and criminal activities, including the drug trade."

Recent attacks

Rocket attacks launched from donkey-pulled carts that hit the Iraqi Oil Ministry and two heavily guarded hotels in Baghdad on Friday were "sensational" but "militarily insignificant," a U.S. military commander said. Two people were injured in the attacks, one critically. (Full story)

Dozens of rockets were later recovered in the Iraqi capital, some of them loaded on other donkey carts.

In Turkey, al Qaeda and a Turkish Islamic militant group, the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders Front (IBDA-C), have jointly claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack on the British Consulate and an HSBC office in Istanbul. At least 30 people were killed and 450 were injured in the bombings. Turkish authorities have arrested several people. (Full story)

British Foreign Minister Jack Straw said the attacks bore the hallmarks of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.

"It appears to be have been perpetrated by al Qaeda and its associates, and I stand by that statement," he said.

The attacks were the second set in Istanbul this week, following simultaneous strikes on two synagogues Saturday in which 25 people were killed. (Full story)

Britain, the United States and Australia -- allies in the Iraq war -- have warned their citizens against nonessential visits to Turkey amid concerns of further attacks. (Warning of more attacks in Turkey)

Bush, Blair vow to stop terrorism

President Bush ended his state visit to Britain on Friday standing side by side with Prime Minister Tony Blair in the British leader's hometown of Sedgefield, telling reporters that the two nations must stand together to conquer the challenge of "cold-blooded killers."

"We're being challenged," Bush said. "We're challenged by killers, cold-blooded killers. And we're gonna prevail. And we're more likely to prevail working together."

Bush pointed to Blair and said, "this man will not be intimidated" by terrorists.

"These terrible attacks that happen -- the terrorism that we see, the destruction, the intent to take innocent life that we see around us in our world today -- should make us all the more determined to do what we need to do to restore order and justice, to bring peace and freedom and democracy to people all over the world," the prime minister said.

CNN national security correspondent David Ensor and justice producer Terry Frieden contributed to this report.

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