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Unsigned Letter Threatens New Terrorist Attacks - 2002-11-17

Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge has said terrorist threats against New York and Washington are nothing new, but security is being beefed up in the United States anyway.

Mr. Ridge said a letter threatening new terrorist attacks contains the same conditions received previously by U.S. intelligence officials, and are similar to other threats of the past year. They warn the United States to stop supporting Israel or face more acts of terrorism.

Appearing on the television program Fox News Sunday, Mr. Ridge said the United States is responding. "We have taken additional precautions and added protective measures both within government and in the private sector. So, again, we are not sure of the source. They say it is attributed to al-Qaida leadership, whatever that is," he said.

The six-page, unsigned letter was delivered to the Arabic language television station, al Jazeera, one day after it broadcast a tape purported to be that of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. The United States blames the terrorist organization for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed more than 3,000 people.

Appearing on the CBS television program Face the Nation, Democrat Senator Chris Dodd says not enough is being done to address the threats. He noted the threat of what was called a "spectacular terrorist attack" received last week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and said he thinks Americans are only slightly safer in the wake of September 11. "When you hear reports, out the other day ... I think the word 'spectacular' is what was used to describe the kind of terrorist attacks we could face, and then we are told afterwards that is kind of an accumulation of evidence dating back months, I am wondering who is in control here," Senator Dodd said.

Senator Richard Shelby agrees that another "spectacular" attack in the United States is possible, with terrorists assaulting targets from within the United States. "I hope we never have one. But to think they are not here in this country, and their affiliates, and to think that they could not cause a spectacular attack on some soft target? Sure, we hope that we pre-empt them, but that threat is there, and it is real," he said.

Senator Shelby also made his comments on CBS's Face the Nation.