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America Strikes Back: FBI Warning Prompted by Unspecific Threats

Aired October 12, 2001 - 05:40   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: The FBI is warning Americans to be on the lookout for possible terrorist activity. The agency says it has reason to believe that there may be additional terrorist attacks coming in the next several days.

Our Eileen O'Connor takes a look at just what sparked this alert.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The FBI decided to put the warning in its Web site saying certain information, while not specific as to target, gives the government reason to believe that there may be additional terrorist attacks within the United States and against U.S. interests overseas over the next several days. Justice Department officials say the information came in from a variety of sources since Monday.

Investigative sources say there was a debate in federal law enforcement over whether to issue such a statement. Some arguing the panic it could cause would outweigh the benefits of any measures people could take to avoid attacks like those of September 11th, especially since officials admit the information does not specify time, place or target.

BEN VENZKE, FBI: We have to keep in mind that every single day, numerous threats are being received, both against targets here in the United States and in our facilities abroad. The question is -- is: Will raising awareness make a difference?

O'CONNOR: The FBI is clearly hoping so -- the statement calling on people to immediately notify the FBI and local enforcement of any unusual or suspicious activity.

President Bush said he was aware of the intelligence that led to the FBI alert.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it is important for the American people to know their government is on full alert, and that's what that warning showed. We take every threat seriously.

O'CONNOR: Still, he urged Americans not to allow the terrorists to bring life to a standstill. BUSH: Their intention was not only to kill and maim destroy, their intention was to frighten to the point where our nation would not act.

O'CONNOR (on camera): Officials admit after the shocking attacks of September 11, all intelligence is being looked at in a much different light with nothing now seeming impossible or improbable.

Eileen O'Connor, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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