US 'vigilant' for holiday terror attack

2010-12-22 22:31
Washington - US President Barack Obama sent out his top White House anti-terror advisor on Wednesday to assure Americans that everything possible was being done to keep them safe from attack over Christmas.

"We remain vigilant to attempts by al-Qaeda and other terrorist organisations to carry out cowardly attacks against innocent men, women and children," said White House counter-terrorism chief John Brennan.

"As we enter the peak of another holiday season, the homeland security, law enforcement and intelligence communities are collectively focused on doing everything they can do to prevent terrorists from disrupting the safety and security of Americans," Brennan said.


The Christmas and New Year holiday season, with its high volume of air travel and festive gatherings, is often seen as a moment of high vulnerability to attacks, and fears have been raised this year by terror warnings in Europe.

Last Christmas Day, a disaster was narrowly averted as a Nigerian man apparently acting on behalf of a Yemen-based al-Qaeda affiliate, tried to down a US airliner headed for Detroit with explosives in his underwear.

Brennan said that Obama called top US security officials to meet at the White House on Tuesday to review the latest threat reports, and to co-ordinate holiday season counter-terrorism plans.

"It is the goal of the counter-terrorism community to stay several steps ahead of our terrorist adversaries so that we can stop terrorists dead in their tracks before ... either small-scale or potentially devastating attacks," Brennan said.

Counter-terrorism measures

However, he cautioned that his appearance before the cameras was meant to reassure Americans that everything that could be done, was being done - not to alarm them as they embarked on holiday travel.

The White House meanwhile released a list of counter-terrorism measures put in place by the administration to meet the latest generation of threats.

Notably, the US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper had taken steps to close gaps in analysis and data collection that may have facilitated the thwarted attack on a Northwest Airlines plane last December 25.

The criteria used to create terrorist watch lists and "No-Fly" lists had also been revised while 500 advanced passenger screening devices had now been installed at 75 US airports, a face sheet showed.

Anti-terror sweep

Changes had also been made in screening cargo following a thwarted plot to put explosives hidden in printer toner cartridges on board cargo planes heading for the United States in October, the White House said.

In Washington, spot checks started on Tuesday on the Washington underground metro system, a week after the government disclosed the arrest of an Afghan man for allegedly threatening to bomb the network.

On Tuesday, CNN, quoting US intelligence officials said that Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was considering poisoning food served at US hotels and restaurants with deadly ricin and cyanide.

In Britain meanwhile, 12 men aged between 17 and 28 were arrested in an anti-terror sweep which came amid heightened tensions following Sweden's first-ever suicide bombing last week.

And last week, Interpol said it had received information from its office in Baghdad about possible al-Qaeda attacks on US and European targets.
Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  john brennan  |  us  |  security

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Amazing solar inventions!

Solar power is lighting up the world, and not just on rooftops anymore.



Prince George the green prince?
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa
China's air pollution at doomsday levels
Keep food fresher for longer

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

There is a tendency to get too caught up in group dynamics and high expectations and ideals, that your own personal needs more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.