(Updates with comment from intelligence official in the second paragraph.)
Sept. 8 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has “specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information” as the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks nears, agency spokesman Matt Chandler said in a statement.
The threat concerns a possible al-Qaeda-sponsored attack targeting New York or Washington on or near the anniversary of the attack, said a different U.S. official, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Another intelligence official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the information hasn’t been fully vetted.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the threat today and received updates throughout the day, according to a statement from a White House official who asked not to be identified.
Obama directed counter-terrorism officials to redouble their efforts, which had already been increased in advance of the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., the White House official said.
The first intelligence official said the report is credible largely because of al-Qaeda’s longstanding interest in important anniversaries and symbolic targets.
Chandler said in a statement: “Sometimes this reporting is credible and warrants intense focus; other times it lacks credibility and is highly unlikely to be reflective of real plots under way.”
‘All Steps Necessary’
“Regardless, we take all threat reporting seriously, and we have taken, and will continue to take all steps necessary to mitigate any threats that arise,” Chandler said.
Attorney General Eric Holder said in May that intelligence retrieved from the compound in Pakistan where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed suggested that he wanted to harm people around the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan told the PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff today: “We know that al-Qaeda wants to try to hit us here in the homeland again; they have been thwarted numerous times.”
--With assistance from Jeff Bliss in Washington. Editors: Laurie Asseo, Don Frederick
To contact the reporters on this story: Seth Stern in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org; John Walcott in Washington at email@example.com
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