Department of Homeland Security has raised the nation's color-coded
threat level from yellow to orange, or "high risk," in
the wake of President Bush’s "exile or war" scenario laid
out March 17 for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his sons.
is no confirmed threat at a specific place or time, but Homeland
Security Department Secretary Tom Ridge said al-Qaida would "probably
attempt attacks claiming that they were defending Muslims or the
to Ridge, recent indications are that al-Qaida’s planning includes
the use of chemical, biological, and/or radiological materials.
ready to mobilize
should U.S. forces invade Iraq, the FBI plans to mobilize as many
as 5,000 agents to guard against terrorist attacks, monitor or arrest
suspected militants and interview thousands of Iraqis living in
the United States, according to officials familiar with the effort
quoted by The Washington Post.
FBI operation, which would approach the scale of the investigation
into the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, reflects widespread
fears that the risk of attack would increase dramatically in the
event of war.
authorities told the newspaper most Iraqis living in the United
States are not a threat, they are concerned that Muslim extremists
may retaliate for war with suicide bombings and other attacks, the
of the FBI's criminal surveillance operations would be temporarily
suspended to focus on potential terrorism or espionage suspects,
one top law-enforcement official said. Any immigration violators
found during interviews and sweeps would be detained, several officials
said. The steps are part of a detailed contingency plan developed
by the FBI over the past year.
Bush administration officials do not emphasize it publicly, U.S.
intelligence and counterterrorism experts agree a war in Iraq would
dramatically increase the chances of terrorist attacks against U.S.
targets, The Post reported.
the start of a war, FBI headquarters and all 56 field offices would
immediately staff 24-hour command centers in conjunction with 66
joint terrorism task forces around the country, authorities said.