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Chertoff Warns of Higher Risk of Terrorism

Published: July 11, 2007

WASHINGTON, July 10 (AP) — United States counterterrorism officials are warning of an increased risk of an attack this summer, given Al Qaeda’s apparent interest in summertime strikes and increased Qaeda training near the Afghan-Pakistani border.

On Tuesday, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, told the editorial board of The Chicago Tribune that he had a “gut feeling” about a new period of increased risk. He said he based his assessment on patterns of terrorists in Europe and intelligence he would not disclose.

“Summertime seems to be appealing to them,” Mr. Chertoff said. “We worry that they are rebuilding their activities.”

“Our edge is technology and the vigilance of the ordinary citizen,” he added.

Other American counterterrorism officials expressed similar concerns, saying that Al Qaeda and like-minded groups have recently been able to plot and train more freely in the tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border, where Osama bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are believed to be hiding.

Mr. Chertoff’s department has not raised the level of terror alerts. Airlines are under high alert, the second-most-serious level on a five-point scale. The rest of the country remains a step below, at elevated.

The secretary urged Americans to be alert in the wake of recent terrorism episodes in England and Scotland. On June 29, two cars packed with gas cylinders and nails were discovered in London. The next day, two men smashed their flaming Jeep Cherokee into security barriers at Glasgow Airport.



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