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US: Terrorists May be Preparing to Strike Again - 2002-09-11

The anniversary of last year's September 11 terror attack in the United States has been accompanied by security alerts and new warnings that American interests overseas could be attacked again. Everything from airports to embassies steeled themselves Wednesday amid what the U.S. government calls credible threats that terrorists may be preparing to strike again.

American forces in the Middle East and South Asia are on their highest state of alert, known as threat condition Delta. And, U.S. embassies in at least nine countries were closed for security reasons Wednesday as the State Department warned of credible indications that Americans overseas could be targeted for kidnapping and assassination.

And across the United States, security was increased at everything from skyscrapers to bridges to airports. Nevertheless, many travelers chose to board flights on a day that airlines had predicted would bring fewer customers.

"I have confidence in the American system, so no fears," one traveller said. "I think it's going to be very safe," said another traveller. "I think the airlines are going to have extra security on."

But in a reminder of the deadly anthrax letters that were mailed in the days after last year's U.S. terror attacks, authorities in five European countries are examining suspicious white powder that arrived in the mail at U.S. embassies in Rome, Copenhagen and Luxembourg as well as at five U.S. consulates in Germany.

"There was an unidentified white powder received in local mail deliveries at our embassies in Rome, Italy, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Luxembourg as well as the consulates in Leipzig, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf, Germany," announced State Department spokeswoman Susan Pittman.

Tests are being conducted on the powder but U.S. officials say no employees at any of the sites required medical attention.

Still, it was another reminder that as Americans mark the anniversary of last year's attacks, there are warnings that the war against terrorism is far from over, including this one from Attorney General John Ashcroft that was issued Tuesday.

The U.S. intelligence community has received information based on debriefings of a senior al-Qaida operative, of possible terrorist attacks timed to coincide with the anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States," he said.

As Wednesday's anniversary drew to a close in many parts of the world, no new incidents were reported. But the warnings of potential new attacks were a reminder that the terror threat is still high.