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Ridge: 'Convergence of information' spurred new alert

Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said Americans should
Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said Americans should "be vigilant, be aware."  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said Tuesday the warning of the possibility of another terrorist attack was precipitated by a "convergence of information" received over the past several days.

Ridge issued the security alert Monday, the third such government warning since the September 11 attacks.

U.S. intelligence sources said the threats came from members of the al Qaeda network against U.S. targets.

But Ridge said the warning was not related to an article in The Washington Post that U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have made strides toward "obtaining plans or materials to make a crude radiological weapon that would use conventional explosives to spread radioactivity over a wide area."

U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge warned Americans of another possible terrorist attack. CNN's Susan Candiotti reports (December 4)

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"We have to be prepared for all eventualities, but that report that you relate to in The Washington Post has absolutely nothing to do with our going on alert again," Ridge said.

Ridge said that intelligence information, coupled with the convergence of the religious observances of Ramadan, Hanukkah and Christmas, spurred the government to issue the alert.

He said analysts unanimously determined that the information "rose to a level above a norm that got us over a threshold that said, mindful of the president's direction, that when you get credible evidence of potential attacks, just share that information with the public, and that's exactly what we did."

He said the government knows that bin Laden has stated he would try to secure whatever weapons he can to undermine the United States.

Ridge is urging Americans to add their eyes and ears to government efforts to track down terrorists and to report any suspicious activity.


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