Terror Threat Update: Suspects May Be U.S. Citizens, At Least One May Be Identified

Since yesterday afternoon a number of new details have emerged about the alleged terrorism plot targeting New York City and Washington, DC. According to ABC News, one of the possible suspects in the plot may have been identified:

Officials may have the name of one of the suspected bomb plotters after a 24-hour intelligence manhunt, U.S. officials tell ABC News.

The hunt included an analysis of flight logs and other documents following a report from a CIA informant that three people were dispatched by al Qaeda to carry out a bomb plot in the United States, in either New York or Washington.

The intelligence from the informant, who is considered reliable by the CIA, led to the national state of high alert over the possible terror strike on the anniversary of 9/11, but the informant's information itself may be secondhand, ABC News has learned.

Meanwhile, the AP reported this morning that two of the individuals involved in this alleged plot may be U.S. citizens:

Al-Qaida may have sent American terrorists or men carrying U.S. travel documents to launch an attack on Washington or New York to coincide with memorials marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11, government officials say.

One U.S. official says al-Qaida dispatched three men, at least two of whom could be U.S. citizens, to detonate a car bomb in one of the cities. Should that mission prove impossible, the attackers have been told to simply cause as much destruction as they can.

Word that al-Qaida had ordered the mission reached U.S. officials midweek. A CIA informant who has proved reliable in the past approached intelligence officials overseas to say that the men had been ordered by newly minted al-Qaida leader Ayman al Zawahri to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks Sunday by doing harm on U.S. soil.

The tipster says the would-be attackers are of Arab descent and may speak Arabic as well as English. Counterterrorism officials were looking for certain names associated with the threat, but it was unclear whether the names were real or fake.

As you can see, the information we're getting is still quite spotty, so it's hard to say exactly what's being planned, let alone what will happen (if anything). New York and DC remain on high alert, with tons of extra security all over the place. But for the most part, residents seem to be taking it in stride. And hopefully, when the weekend comes to a close, there will be nothing more to report.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at September 10, 2011, 5:05am

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