U.S. on high terrorist alert on anniversary of 9/11 attacks; American forces in Bahrain on highest ''Delta'' alert
The United States went on a high terrorist alert ahead of the anniversary of the September 11 attacks with officials warning of the risk of strikes on US interests in Asia and the Middle East.
Vice President Dick Cheney was put into a secret location as the terror alert was raised nationwide for the first time since the system was introduced in March.
The US military warned of possible attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf and put its forces in Bahrain on top alert.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said Americans should remain "alert but defiant in the face of this new threat."
President George W. Bush said "We take every threat seriously. The threats remind us of pattern of threats we heard prior to September 11. "We have no specific threat to America. But we're taking it seriously we've gone to a different level of concern. A different threat level which means our government will be providing extra security at key facilities and that will increase surveillance.
"We'll do everything we can to protect the American people and Americans need to go about their lives."
US authorities ordered 14 embassies and missions in Asia, the Middle East and Africa to close for at least Wednesday.
The US Navy warned shippers of unconfirmed reports that al-Qaeda has planned attacks against oil tankers.The Navy's Maritime Liaison Office in Bahrain said in an advisory there was no indication an attack was imminent but that the threat should be taken seriously.
US forces in Bahrain have been placed on the highest "Delta" alert and forces in the rest of the Gulf up to the second highest alert, a US defense official told AFP. The US embassy in Bahrain announced that it was closing on Tuesday and Wednesday and called on Americans throughout the country to remain vigilant.
Other U.S. bases overseen by Central Command — those in the Horn of Africa and Afghanistan and Central Asia — raised their security to the second-highest level.
Meanwhile, the United States embassy in Qatar, citing security concerns, said Tuesday it had canceled an event to commemorate the victims of the September 11 attacks.
"We cannot rule out the possibility that attacks may occur against US embassies or consulates" on the first anniversary of the attacks, the embassy said in a warden message, cited by AFP.
"The embassy memorial event scheduled for September 11, 2002 has been canceled," it added, noting that the State Department had alerted Americans all over the world to "the need to remain especially vigilant during the period around the anniversary of the attacks.
"There is a continuing threat of terrorist actions, which may target civilians and include suicide operations. We remind American citizens to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution, " the message said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)