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Ashcroft: US Banks Could Be Terror Targets - 2002-04-19

The FBI says it has received unsubstantiated information suggesting banks in the United States could be targeted for terrorist attack. This warning was issued just hours before finance ministers from the Group of Eight nations opened their spring meetings in Washington.

The FBI has alerted authorities in Washington D.C. and 12 states mostly in the Northeast about what it says are unsubstantiated terrorist threats against financial institutions banks in particular.

While lacking hard evidence about a specific threat, the agency says it decided to go ahead and issue this warning out of what it calls an abundance of caution.

Attorney General John Ashcroft said, "It is important to note that there is no specific threat being communicated to any specific institution. We are not changing our assessment of the overall national threat level, and we are not urging banks to close and people to stay away from banks."

Still, a U.S. official who asked not to be identified said the threats came from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. This new FBI warning comes four days after a number of banks in Washington closed their doors following a bomb threat that turned out to be a hoax.

Washington is already bracing for what could be tens of thousands of anti-globalization demonstrators converging on the city over the next several days to protest the G-8 meeting, the war against terrorism and other causes.

Authorities are concerned the weekend events could be easy cover for other groups to carry out terrorism. Last year, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak said he had learned of an alleged plot by Osama bin Laden to carry out a terrorist attack on world leaders attending last July's G-8 summit in Genoa, Italy.