Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, has announced a higher threat level just for three cities - New York, Newark, NJ and Washington, DC. This information comes from specific intelligence that was recovered the week before when suspected terrorists were caught in Pakistan. As a result, the terror level for those cities has been raised to Orange, the second highest level, representing a very high risk of terror attack.
The information was specific details of possible terrorist targets in the US. All were major financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank buildings in Washington; the Prudential Financial building in New Jersey; and the Citicorp buildings and the New York Stock Exchange in New York.
Secretary Ridge could not say when a possible attack might have been planned for, but did mention that the detail of the research done on these sites was "alarming". The implication is that al Qaeda was planning to use car bombs to blow up one or more of these sites. There was research on security measures, parking structures, escape routes. There was recommendations on the type of explosives which would be most effective to bring the building down.
Law enforcement in New York, New Jersey and Washington have responded by increasing security measures at these sites and around their respective cities. In New York, commercial traffic has been restricted to specific routes, so it will be easier to search for truck bombs. In DC, increased police protection as well as reinforced barriers around buildings have been introduced. New Jersey authorities have sent law enforcement and canine units on ferries and on trains coming into the city.
Among those captured in Pakistan was a computer expert. US officials are not confirming that the information came from this source, but multiple media outlets quote Pakistani foreign officials who say the information came from a laptop seized in the arrest of this expert.
Officials continue to question the arrested terrorists in Pakistan and hope to uncover more evidence of threats to the US.