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U.S. Forces on Threatcon Delta in Kuwait, Saudi ArabiaAired October 31, 2000 - 1:16 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We have another major story developing. It is two more nations in the Persian Gulf, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, being added to the list now placed on Threatcon Delta with a threat to U.S. forces and diplomatic personnel.
Military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre.
What does it all mean, Jamie?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, what this indicates is just a flurry of possible terrorist threats and activity that U.S. intelligence is picking up in the region. Already, every country in the Middle East and Persian Gulf region is on a very high state of alert, at least Threatcon Charlie, they call it here at the Pentagon, or in some cases Threatcon Delta.
Now, the only difference between those two threats is essentially Threatcon Charlie means that there's a high likelihood of terrorist activity sort of in general. Threatcon Delta means that there's been some specific threat picked up. That means at a specific location there could be a threat.
Yesterday, the Pentagon decided to put U.S. forces in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia on Threatcon Delta, which is the highest threat, meaning that U.S. intelligence had picked up some specific information about U.S. interest in those areas. That includes U.S. embassy facilities in those countries.
Of course, the United States has troops and planes in both of those countries that patrol the no-fly zones in Iraq, about 5,000 troops in both -- in each of the countries, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
And according to one administration official, at least one of these threats picked up by U.S. intelligence was specifically linked to the organization that was created by accused terrorist Osama bin Laden.
So the U.S. is taking all of these threats very carefully. Already, every country in the region is on a very high state of alert. Threatcon Charlie, for instance, warns of an imminent terrorist attack. So you can't get a whole lot more than that.
Right now, there are five countries at the highest state. That would be Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, as well as Qatar, Bahrain, and of course Yemen, where the USS Cole was attacked on October 12, which really kicked off this round of higher alert for possible terrorist activity -- Lou.
WATERS: Jamie, without revealing operational details, of course, can you give us some sense of what it means to be on operation Charlie and then on operation Delta? What happens?
MCINTYRE: Well, it's essentially a war footing. It is -- they are bracing for an attack which could come at any time. So at those facilities, they have the tightest security in terms of searching vehicles coming in. They don't take anything for granted. They have the maximum number of patrols. And the personnel themselves are on the highest state of alert. That is, they're looking for anything unusual that would indicate terrorist activity such as surveillance of the base or people being followed. They're just on the highest state of alert. They're essentially on a war footing in those locations.
WATERS: Is there anything new on the investigation into the USS Cole?
MCINTYRE: Well, I'm not aware of any. The Pentagon, of course, continues to make the point that it's not conducting the investigation, it's being done -- conducted by law enforcement officials, the FBI. And, of course, there has been some frustration on the part of the U.S. law enforcement officials about the level of cooperation they've been getting from the Yemen government.
There was perhaps a small indication of that today when the U.S. Navy was not granted permission to land one of its helicopters in Yemen. It was simply trying to do that to drop off some videotape to Western news organizations of the loading of the USS Cole on a heavy transport ship. But they were not able to get permission from the government of Yemen to do that simple task. That may be an indication of sort of the tension in the relationship between the United States and Yemen, or may simply be a case of somebody in the Navy not properly completing the paperwork that needed to be done. We're not really sure at this point.
But it just goes to show the difficulty of working in another country where you need to have the permission of that country before you can do things that you want to do.
WATERS: Sure. Jamie McIntyre, our military affairs correspondent over at the Pentagon, with -- following the events in the Persian Gulf where Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have been added to the list of nations now on Threatcon Delta.
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