U.S. officials said Thursday evening they have “specific, credible but unconfirmed” information about a potential threat against the United States coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“We have received credible information very recently about a possible plot directed at the homeland that seems to be focused on New York and Washington, D.C.,” a senior administration official told CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr.
The official said the plot was believed to involve three individuals, including a U.S. citizen. U.S. officials believed the threat was a vehicle laden with explosives, but “the intelligence picture is not completely formed,” the official said. “Not enough is known about the potential operatives and their plotting.”
Another source gave CNN conflicting information about possible details of the threat.
A senior law enforcement official involved in briefings about the matter told CNN Justice Department Producer Terry Frieden that his best information is that the three individuals had not yet entered the United States.
One official said the information came in around noon Wednesday.
A federal official told CNN producer Mike Ahlers that the information originated from the tribal border area of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
A senior fed law enforcement official intimately involved in counter terrorism efforts told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King said authorities “aren’t sure if this is or real or just chatter.”
The official confirmed the threat was vehicle-related.
Officials said they were taking the threat seriously, while evidently trying to temper the news by saying such threats are commonplace during key events.
“It’s accurate that there is specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information,” said Matthew Chandler, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security. “As we always do before important dates like the anniversary of 9/11, we will undoubtedly get more reporting in the coming days. 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.
“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. We continue to ask the American people to remain vigilant as we head into the weekend,” Chandler said in a prepared statement.
A government official told CNN that members of Congress were briefed by White House, intelligence and other officials Thursday about the threat.
Rep. Peter King, R-New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said very specific details were made known to lawmakers about the threat. “Many agencies are looking at this from every possible angle,” he said.
But it is not known yet if the threat is real, he said, adding, “I would tell people now to go about their lives. There’s no need to panic.”
A senior administration official with first-hand knowledge told CNN National Security Contributor Fran Townsend that although there is “specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information,” there are a lot of questions about this information — “weird things.”
Multiple senior counterterrorism officials told Townsend on Thursday evening that the information came in the previous 12 to 14 hours.
A U.S. intelligence official told CNN National Security Producer Pam Benson, “We’re trying to sort out” if what they are seeing “is accurate.”
Read full story here.