“Authorities raised the terrorist threat assessment over the weekend after new intelligence indicated that operatives of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida terror network, possibly trained and licensed to fly passenger jets, may now be pilots for some foreign airlines, ideally positioning them to carry out suicide attacks, U.S. officials told NBC News on Monday.” This from MSNBC.
“Reinforced cockpit doors intended to thwart hijackers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks would now protect any terrorist pilot at the controls, the officials said on condition of anonymity.
“Authorities would not describe the terror threats in detail publicly, but the U.S. officials told NBC”s Jim Miklaszewski that the threat alert would remain at ‘orange,’ or high, through the end of January, which they said was an indication of its seriousness.”
Also, “new intelligence indicates that al-Qaida remains intent on attacking large gatherings of people with chemical or biological weapons, official said. They said law enforcement agencies were looking closely at two rural locations “” one in the East and the other in the Southwest “” that were believed to be high on the terrorist target list.
“Most troubling, the officials said, were indications that al-Qaida may already possess a radiological weapon, or so-called ‘dirty bomb.’ They did not elaborate.
“Experts said a potent dirty bomb could spread radioactive material for a half-mile in all directions. People in the fallout zone would be bombarded with radiation levels that they would not otherwise be exposed to from natural sources for a full year.
“While it may not particularly deadly, the psychological impact of a dirty bomb could be devastating, experts said.
“‘The point of a dirty bomb is not mass casualties,’ terrorism specialist Roger Cressey, chief of staff for President Bush’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Board from November 2001 to September 2002, said in an interview. ‘It’s much more to instill fear and panic into the general population.'”