Retaliation Threats For US

May 2nd, 2011 by Mariah

(CNN) — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security expects “threats of retaliation” from al Qaeda in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s death, a department official told CNN early Monday.

 

“We certainly anticipate threats of retaliation — this is an organization that declared war on the United States more than a decade ago. Threats from al Qaeda are not a new phenomenon,” the official said.

 

The United States put American diplomatic facilities around the world on high alert and issued a global travel warning for Americans shortly after President Barack Obama announced that the terrorist leader had been killed in Pakistan by U.S. special operations forces.

 

“Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, U.S. citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations,” the State Department said in a worldwide travel warning issued early Monday.

 

“U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times.”

 

The Homeland Security official said the agency remains “at a heightened state of vigilance,” although the national terror-threat level was not immediately raised following bin Laden’s death.

 

“Our security posture, which always includes a number of measures both seen and unseen, will continue to protect the American people from an evolving threat picture both in the next days and beyond,” the official said.

 

“Secretary (Janet) Napolitano has been clear since announcing the NTAS (National Terrorism Advisory System) in January that we will only issue alerts when we have specific or credible information to convey to the American public,” the official said.

 

At the U.S. Capitol, “there have been increased foot patrols, exterior building checks and the strategic placement of personnel, all cautionary while the intelligence community measures the possibility of anti-American response,” Senate Sergeant at Arms Terry Gainer said via e-mail. “There are no present indications of problems.”

 

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, and its consulates in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar were closed Monday to routine business, the embassy said in a statement. The embassy warned U.S. citizens “of the possibility of violent protests and demonstrations in major cities of Pakistan,” specifically near the embassy or consulates, or areas where Westerners are known to congregate.

 

In London, British Foreign Secretary William Hague ordered his nation’s embassies to review their security, saying this is usual procedure in such situations, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.

 

Interpol, the international police organization, urged law enforcement agencies in its 188 member countries to be on “full alert” for retaliatory acts, Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said.

Local U.S. authorities also took precautions.

 

Washington’s public transit operator, the Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, increased the number of uniformed officers patrolling the system, said Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

 

And in New York, the Port Authority, which operates the airports and other sites around the city, “has directed its police to increase its presence at all Port Authority facilities, including the World Trade Center site, and to coordinate with local, state and federal law enforcement as required,” Executive Director Chris Ward said in a news release.

 

Both Farbstein and Ward said the steps are precautionary measures and not related to any specific threat.

 

In New York, where al Qaeda used a pair of hijacked commercial jetliners to take down the twin towers of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, police were wary. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said there was no information to indicate a threat to the city, but “members of the service are reminded to remain alert.”

 

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said it was increasing police presence at all of its facilities, including the site where the World Trade Center once stood, “out of an abundance of caution,” according to Chris Ward, executive director.

 

The Philadelphia Police Department said it was doing hourly checks on mosques and synagogues.

 

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online jihadist activities, said vague threats were posted on the Shumukh al-Islam forum, the exclusive outlet for official al Qaeda messages.

 

“America will reap the same if the news is true and false,” said one posting on the website. “The lions will remain lions and will continue moving in the footsteps of Osama,” said another.

 

Adding to the concern is a Defense Department report released last week by the WikiLeaks website that a Guantanamo detainee had knowledge of al Qaeda possibly possessing a nuclear bomb somewhere in Europe.

 

The detainee, Abu al-Libi, said he was told by al Qaeda associate Sharif al-Masri that he believed if bin Laden were captured or killed “the bomb would be detonated” in the United States.

 

Al-Libi said al-Masri told him during the summer of 2004 that the terrorist network was having difficulty moving the bomb, but if it could move it “al Qaeda would find operatives to use it.”