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.
….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.
….CIA Director George ?Tenet has been pushing for this for two weeks,? a third official told NBC News. ?But Ridge has been resisting, fearing a ?cry-wolf? effect. In the most recent discussion, however, [Attorney General John] Ashcroft went along as well.?
I wonder if the folks running al-Qaeda have any idea what will happen to them if they succeed in pulling off another major attack on U.S. soil? Probably not.