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Thousands of tips received on suspected seven

FBI: 'Please keep them coming'

Attorney General John Ashcroft: Intelligence indicates al Qaeda intends "to hit the United States hard."
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI has received more than 2,000 tips from the public in the 24 hours after a news conference asking for help in locating seven people Attorney General John Ashcroft called al Qaeda operatives.

"Many thanks for your help on locating those pictured below," the FBI Web site said Thursday. "Over 2,000 tips were sent by mid-afternoon today on alone. Please keep them coming."

Officials could not provide the number of tips that came in phone calls.

Calls to numbers provided on the "Be on the Look Out" Web pages are being fielded by the Counterterrorism Watch office. Additional calls are being received by FBI field offices, a bureau official said.

"We consider the response promising and encouraging," said an FBI spokeswoman.

On Wednesday, the FBI told its 18,000 state and local law enforcement partners to be especially vigilant that al Qaeda may change its tactics to carry out a new attack in the United States.

The FBI weekly bulletin came on the heels of a stern warning from Ashcroft that terrorists intend to attack the homeland in coming months.

"Credible intelligence from multiple sources indicates that al Qaeda plans to attempt an attack on the United States in the next few months," Ashcroft said. "This disturbing intelligence indicates al Qaeda's specific intention to hit the United States hard."

But the intelligence -- gleaned from various U.S. intelligence agencies -- does not point to a specific attack plan, U.S. officials said.

According to the FBI bulletin, public statements by al Qaeda leaders suggest that plans for a U.S. attack are nearly complete, and that any of several upcoming high-profile events -- such as the G8 Summit in Sea Island, Georgia, the national political conventions this summer in Boston and New York, and the November presidential election -- were possible targets.

"The face of al Qaeda may be changing," the FBI said. "It is possible al Qaeda will attempt to infiltrate young Middle Eastern extremists into America, as they did prior to September 11.

"Al Qaeda is a resilient and adaptable organization known for altering tactics in the face of new security measures."

At the news conference earlier Wednesday, Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller presented photographs of seven people who, they said, are associated with al Qaeda.

"They all are sought in connection with the possible terrorist threats in the United States. They all pose a clear and present danger to America. They all should be considered armed and dangerous," said Ashcroft.

The names and photos of six of them have been shown previously. The seventh, introduced Wednesday, is a U.S. citizen.

Adam Gadahn, who converted to Islam, is associated with al Qaeda leader Abu Aubaydah in Pakistan and attended the terrorist network's training camps in Afghanistan, Mueller said. "He is known to have performed translations for al Qaeda as part of the services he has provided."

The six others named: Abederraouf Jdey; Adnan Shukrijumah; Aafia Siddiqui, the one woman of the seven; Amer El-Maati; Fazul Abdullah Mohammed; and Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani.

Ashcroft said Mohammed and Ghailani were involved in the al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998. They are listed among the 22 most-wanted terrorists. The other five of the seven are listed as "seeking information," meaning the FBI wants to question them but has not linked them to specific terrorist activity.

The FBI issued "be on the lookout alerts" (BOLOs) for all seven, calling on law enforcement agencies in the United States and around the world to keep their eyes open for them.

"After the March 11th attack in Madrid, Spain, an al Qaeda spokesman announced that 90 percent of the arrangements for an attack in the United States were complete," Ashcroft said.

Armed with an automatic rifle, a police officer stands watch Wednesday outside the U.S. Capitol.

Asked whether intelligence suggests the seven individuals named might be involved in pending attacks, Ashcroft replied, "We know some of them to be very adept at the variety of things that are necessary for the achievement of an attack in the United States. Some of them are very familiar with the United States.

"Obviously, several of them, by having lived here, been educated here, speak English well, understand the country well. Those are very important things."

Earlier, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told CNN: "The intelligence that we've received over the past several weeks is ... a series of general non-specific threats against the United States."

There is "absolutely nothing specific enough" to recommend raising the threat level at this point, he said. "In the absence of specific information, it is our job every single day to get smarter and more secure, and we use people and technology around the country to do that."

CNN's Kelli Arena, Kevin Bohn, Terry Frieden, Jeanne Meserve and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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