FBI warns of attack potential
This time, the government has a suspect in mind.
WASHINGTON -- The FBI issued an extraordinary alert Monday night of a possible terrorist attack, warning Americans that a Yemeni man and his associates may be planning an assault as early as today.
FBI officials were not able to be precise about he target, saying only that the attack could be aimed at U.S. interests either in this country or abroad.
"Recent information indicates a planned attack may occur in the United States or against U.S. interests on or around 02/12/02," the dispatch said. "One or more operatives may be involved in the attack."
The FBI and other federal law-enforcement agencies, already on high alert since the Sept. 11 attacks, have ratcheted up precautions since the Winter Olympics began Friday in Salt Lake City. But there was no indication that the new alert was connected to the Olympics, which have been blanketed in extraordinary security.
Source of information: Officials were not specific about the source of the information that led to the alert, but they said it came from the military's ongoing operations in Afghanistan, where numerous documents and other evidence have been unearthed, as well as from interviews of Al-Qaida and Taliban detainees at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Monday's warning, which is posted on the FBI Web site, www.fbi.gov, named Fawaz Yahya al-Rabeei as the primary operative who might be involved in the attack.
Al-Rabeei is a Yemeni citizen born in Saudi Arabia in 1979. He may be using any number of aliases, including Furqan, Sa'id, Musharraf and Furqan the Chechen, the bureau's alert said.
The alert also named 15 "known associates" of al-Rabeei, most of them Yemenis, but also including Saudis and Tunisians.
The warning concluded tersely, "All individuals should be considered extremely dangerous."
Kidnapped reporter: In Pakistan, the chief suspect in the abduction of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was arrested today in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, an Interior Ministry official said.
Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh was being sent to the southern port city of Karachi, where he will be interrogated, ministry secretary Tasneem Noorani said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Noorani said he was arrested today but refused to give further details. Pearl's whereabouts remain unknown.
The arrest was announced one day before President Pervez Musharraf is to meet President Bush in Washington. The kidnapping had embarrassed the Musharraf government, which is seeking U.S. aid as it attempts to combat Muslim extremism in this predominantly Islamic country of 147 million people.
Saeed's arrest "is a significant achievement in the case," Noorani said, adding, "We have to wait" to learn about Pearl's fate.
At Camp X-Ray: Meanwhile, the base in Guantanamo Bay grew a bit more crowded Monday, with 34 suspected Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters flying in to the Camp X-Ray prison.
U.S. officials confirmed for the first time that Christians were among the inmates -- previously assumed to be made up entirely of Muslim zealots -- and hinted that other religions were also represented.
The group of 34 that arrived from Afghanistan was the third prisoner transport in six days, bringing the inmate count to 254 and underlining a sudden speed up in arrivals last week after a lengthy slowdown.
In other developments:
U U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has asked for an investigation into allegations that a group of Afghans mistakenly taken prisoner by U.S. Special Forces last month were beaten and mistreated, but senior Pentagon officials said Monday that so far there is no evidence that such abuse took place.
U Credit card applications and airline schedules were found at the site of a U.S. missile attack in Afghanistan, indicating that the victims of the strike were not innocent civilians, a top Pentagon official said.
Some Afghans have claimed that the Feb. 4 attack from a CIA-operated spy drone killed civilians rather than members of the Taliban or Al-Qaida. More than 50 U.S. soldiers searched the site over the weekend and found evidence that "would seem to say that these are not peasant people up there farming," Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem said Monday.
U Smoke and dust from the destroyed World Trade Center exposed residents of lower Manhattan to weeks of some of the highest levels of air pollution ever studied, a team of California scientists reported Monday.
Samples of air collected about a mile from the World Trade Center site in the weeks after the attacks show extraordinarily elevated levels of tiny particles laced with soot and metals, the researchers said. Fires smoldering in the rubble turned glass, concrete and computer equipment into an aerosol fallout that was far more intense and persistent than expected.
For many of the pollutants, the exact health effects are unknown. But many recent studies have shown that tiny particles can penetrate lungs and be absorbed into the bloodstream. Exposure to particles has been linked to elevated rates of cancer, heart attacks and asthma.