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Official: Threat cited this weekend

Jitters, false alarms follow New York threat announcement



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New York
Acts of terror
Michael R. Bloomberg

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Two of the dates mentioned in intelligence about possible subway attacks in New York were Friday and Sunday, an official with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

The official said the source of the threat information had trained at a terrorist camp in Afghanistan and has been an accurate purveyor of information to U.S. intelligence in the past.

The source passed a polygraph test having to do with knowledge of the possible attacks in New York, the official said.

According to law enforcement sources, the information garnered from the individual in Iraq claimed that a group of 15 to 20 people were in the United States to carry out the attacks in the New York metropolitan area.

That information, the sources said Friday, led to a military operation Wednesday night in Musayyib, about 45 miles south of Baghdad, where three al Qaeda suspects were arrested. (Full story)

Friday, October 7, is three months to the day that four bombers carried out attacks on three London subways and a double-decker bus, killing 52 people and wounding 700. The July 7 morning rush-hour attacks were the city's bloodiest since World War II.

New York has been on orange alert, or the second-highest level -- indicating a high risk of terror attack -- since the color-coded warning system was established after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The announcement of a possible attack on New York's subway system prompted San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit to raise its alert, from orange to "enhanced orange," Friday. The measure was not taken because of any specific terror threat to San Francisco, said BART spokesman Lynton Johnson.

About 300,000 people ride the BART system each weekday.

And last week, authorities said that Paris' subway, an airport and an intelligence agency's headquarters were suspected targets of an Islamic militant cell in France.

False alarms heighten tension

Jitters were evident among New York commuters Friday, a day after officials warned about a possible attack on the city's subway system.

Police at subway stations rummaged through briefcases, purses and bags, and two rush-hour false alarms intensified the tension across the city.

Authorities in New York temporarily suspended service on the No. 1 and No. 3 subway lines between 34th and 96th streets during the afternoon rush hour after an unattended bag was found on the tracks, said Dierdre Parker, a spokeswoman at New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The bag, found at the 50th Street Station on Manhattan's West Side, contained schoolbooks, police said.

During the morning rush hour, Penn Station at 34th Street was the target of what "appears to be a prank," said New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Police temporarily shut down parts of the station after a soda bottle filled with a substance resembling the household cleaner Drano was found near Amtrak's ticket counter, authorities said. (Watch a report of how the hoax unfolded -- 2:09)

An Amtrak spokeswoman said that all trains now are operating normally.

Meanwhile, the Washington Monument was evacuated for two hours Friday afternoon after authorities received a bomb threat, Park Police spokesman Scott Fear said. The park reopened after authorities found the threat wasn't credible, he said.

A bomb threat also interrupted a Rolling Stones concert in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Thursday night. The show resumed without incident.

President backs Bloomberg's decision

President Bush backed New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's decision to announce the threat publicly, despite questions by some federal officials about its credibility.

"Our job is to gather intelligence and pass them on to local authorities, and they made the judgments necessary to respond," the president told reporters.

Bloomberg said he wasn't second-guessing his decision. (Watch him defending his response -- 5:25)

"It is very different being an analyst in Washington looking at data as opposed to being here in New York, where you have to take responsibility to protect people's lives," he said.

"We believe that there is some credibility to this, and if I'm going to make a mistake you can rest assured it is going to be on the side of being cautious."

An average of 4.5 million people use the New York subways every weekday. Some riders at Pennsylvania Station said they were a little nervous but still had to get to work. (Watch New Yorkers react to security threat -- 2:12)

"I don't feel 100 percent safe, to be honest," one woman said.

Bloomberg had encouraged people to ride the subway and rode it himself on Thursday and Friday morning.

"Everybody is going to still take the train whether there's a bomb threat or not," one man told CNN. "I mean, what am I going to do? I just hope it's not my train."

"You think twice, should I take the car or should I take the train?" another man said. "But either you take the car and you go broke or you take the train and you just pray."

CNN's Jamie McIntyre, Allison Gilbert, Rob Frehse, Jeanne Meserve, David Ensor, Adaora Udoji, Kelli Arena, Carol Cratty, Terry Frieden and Deborah Feyerick contributed to this report.

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