The Department of Homeland Security has raised the terror level threat in New York City, northern New Jersey and Washington, D.C., citing specific intelligence indicating that al-Qaida is planning attacks on key financial institutions.
U.S. Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge says multiple sources of intelligence information, received over the past two days, point to an increasing terror threat.
"The intelligence reports have provided a level of detail that is very specific," he said. "The quality of this intelligence, based on multiple reporting streams in multiple locations, is rarely seen and it is alarming in both the amount and the specificity of the information."
Mr. Ridge said al-Qaida is targeting several buildings, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C., the New York Stock Exchange and Citigroup buildings in New York City, and the Prudential Financial building in northern New Jersey. The U.S. government's threat level for financial institutions in those areas was raised from high alert.
Mr. Ridge asked residents to be more aware of suspicious activity around them in the coming weeks.
"Just because we know where, but not precisely when, that does mean that we cannot take pre-emptive action," he said. "Just the opposite."
Officials have told police to be on the alert for potential truck bombs or chemical agents that could be placed in ventilation systems. Mr. Ridge said he would not divulge the specific measures law enforcement intends to take to protect against attacks, but said people could expect to see increased buffer zones around at-risk buildings, restrictions to underground parking, more security officers and more vigilant screening of packages and visitors.
Washington, D.C., and New York City were the primary targets of the September 11 terror attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.