WASHINGTON – The high alert declared by the New York Police on Friday night following a report on the Israeli website DEBKAfile that al-Qaeda might be plotting to detonate a dirty bomb in the city, made headline in the US media Saturday morning.
"Vague threat prompts steps by NY Police," the New York Times
According to the NY Times, the police learned about the threat through an item on the website debka.com — a site they believed to have Israeli intelligence and military sources — that said al-Qaeda operatives were planning to detonate a truck filled with radiological material in New York, Los Angeles or Miami.
Officials told the NY Times that the website carried reports that were often wrong, but occasionally right.
Paul J. Browne, a police spokesman, said, “We’ve found nothing to verify the threat.”
He added, however, “Because it meant our deploying radiological monitoring equipment, it was noticed, and it gave rise to some rumors that we were obligated to kill.”
DEBKAfile's Giora Shamis told Ynet
earlier that the Americans had much to fear.
The report triggering the security hike said that there has been a rush of electronic chatter on al-Qaeda sites, one saying there would be an attack "by means of trucks loaded with radio-active material against America's biggest city and financial nerve center."
Another al-Qaeda message mentioned New York, Los Angeles and Miami as targets, the Jerusalem-based DEBKAfile reported.
New York City police said in a statement the threat against the city was an "unverified radiological threat," stressed the increased security was precautionary and said the city's alert status for an attack was unchanged at "orange."
New York Police, Friday night (Photo: AP)
According to the NY Times, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg released his own statement last night saying the city’s threat level had not changed and calling the police response nothing out of the ordinary.
“These actions are like those that the NYPD takes every day: precautions against potential but unconfirmed threats that may never materialize,” he said.
"Dirty bomb scare rocks city," the Daily News
tabloid said in its headline, noting that the terror threat was picked up on Jerusalem-based, English-language website www.debka.com which posts commentary and analysis on terrorism, intelligence, security, and military and political affairs in the Middle East.
The site is known to have solid links to the Israeli intelligence and military communities, but only a so-so record on accuracy, the tabloid reported.
According to the Daily News, top counterterrorism officials in Washington were deeply skeptical of the Debka report.
"The threat is not terribly credible," one senior FBI official told the Daily News. According to the report, the FBI said it wasn't mobilizing agents in any of the cities mentioned.
Reuters contributed to the report