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US Terror Alert Remains Unchanged After Indonesia Bombing - 2003-08-05


U.S. Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge said there are no plans at the moment to raise the terror alert level in the wake of the terrorist suicide bombing in Indonesia. But U.S. officials are taking a closer look at cameras, computers and other electronic devices that might hide explosives.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said for now the national terror alert level will remain at elevated. "We know, as this Jakarta bombing reminds us, that we are still prosecuting the war against terrorists worldwide and we know the same terrorists could conceivably looked, have looked, at bringing their death and destruction to this country. But there are no present plans to raise the threat level," he said.

On a different security matter, Secretary Ridge also confirmed that his department has sent a warning to U.S. airports to closely check cameras, computers and other electronic devices that could be used to hide explosives.

Mr. Ridge said U.S. officials have obtained what he called specific and actionable intelligence that al-Qaida operatives have been trying to find ways to disguise explosives inside common electronic devices.

"From time to time, we get specific information. And we found and discovered that there have been efforts to use electronic devices to conceal explosive devices. And so we give specific information to our professionals at the airports and ask them to improve and enhance their scrutiny of these devices, simple as that," Mr. Ridge said.

Last week, homeland security officials warned airlines and law enforcement agencies that al-Qaida may attempt more suicide hijackings in the coming months.

On Sunday, Attorney General John Ashcroft said there continues to be a very real potential for another attack from al-Qaida. But he also said the Bush administration is taking steps to minimize the potential of more attacks.

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