One thing this won’t help is the intention in many corners to downplay al-Qaeda in the discourse surrounding the anniversary — to just “move on.” “9/11 threat from al Qaeda operative intercepted, official says,” by Barbara Starr, Mike M. Ahlers and Lesa Jansen for CNN, September 9:
Washington (CNN) — American spy networks have intercepted communications from an al Qaeda operative in Pakistan indicating plans for a terrorist strike in New York or Washington, according to a senior U.S. official.
The communications come from a source who has provided accurate information in the past, the official said, prompting intelligence officials to sift through communications from other al Qaeda cells.
No other corroborating evidence of an attack has been uncovered, the official added.
But the information indicates the plan — thought to involve a vehicle-borne explosive device — is meant to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
U.S. officials rarely speak on the record about intelligence intercepts. And in the days following the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, U.S. officials indicated al Qaeda had gone to great lengths to avoid having its communications intercepted by the United States.
While the precise nature of communication intercepts is rarely discussed, U.S. officials repeatedly have indicated their comfort with sharing the results of those intercepts.
Intelligence officials also say they have picked up “chatter,” or widely divergent communications, from extremists that suggest the newly tapped al Qaeda head, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is in some way involved in the current plot.
Meanwhile, heightened security was visible Friday in New York and Washington as intelligence officials worked to pin down information about the potential threat and federal and local law enforcement fanned out across both cities.
A senior U.S. official said the plot was believed to involve three individuals. It is believed to entail a vehicle bomb, but “we cannot rule out other means,” the official said.
At least two of the individuals are believed to be American citizens, a U.S. government source said.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden also weighed in Friday, saying the information was at least in part gleaned from the May raid against bin Laden in Abottabad, Pakistan.
“This is the first … credible piece of information we’ve gotten,” Biden told NBC’s “Today” show. “All hands are on deck.”…