News Stories

Terror Threat to Nuke and Chem Plants

Terrorists have targeted our largest nuclear power plant, the Palo Verde plant near Phoenix, and security officials are looking for Iraqi "sleeper cells" that might carry out the attack. National Guard troops have been sent to guard the facility. And congress warns that millions of Americans are in danger if terrorists manage to successfully attack just a few of our 123 most dangerous chemical plants.

Officials say the report on the threat to the Palo Verde plant was "uncorroborated threat information" from classified intelligence reports distributed to law enforcement and security officials. Palo Verde is the largest nuclear power plant in the U.S., with three reactors that produce 30 billion kilowatt hours of electricity last year each year.

Intelligence reports indicate that Iraq has set up clandestine cells of operatives inside the U.S. and abroad that can be called on to conduct attacks or sabotage. It's known that Iraqi diplomats in Cairo conducted surveillance of the U.S. Embassy there, meaning it could be one of the targets. Officials don't know many Iraqi cells are in the country.

Baghdad has approximately 250 officials posted to the U.S., most of them at the UN. The State Department has decided to expel 3 Iraqi diplomats who are Washington. However, only Iraqi officials who are caught taking part in improper intelligence or terrorism can be expelled from the UN. Meanwhile, the FBI warned law-enforcement officials to watch out for suspicious activity by people driving cars with Iraqi diplomatic license plates, and says, "Suspicious activity involving vehicles bearing Iraqi diplomatic license plates should be reported immediately to the nearest Joint Terrorism Task Force." Codes used on their license plates in Washington have "TF" on them and Iraqi UN diplomatic plates in New York have a "TS" code.

The administration has urged governments around the world to expel Iraqi diplomats. In the last few days, Iraqi diplomats have been expelled from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Thailand and Australia.

The FBI wants to interview 50,000 Iraqis now living in the U.S. Among them are 3,000 illegal immigrants who are missing. Earlier this week, Mexican authorities detained six Iraqi citizens as they tried to cross into the U.S. from Tijuana. They claimed to be Germans who had arrived at the Tijuana airport the night before on a flight from Mexico City. They've been returned to Mexico City for questioning. The Border Patrol also found a diary written in Arabic last week in a backpack discovered on a southern Arizona trail frequently used by illegal aliens. The diary contained names and telephone numbers.

A report released by Republican Billy Tauzin, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says that despite recent efforts to increase homeland security, nobody is paying enough attention to the dangers associated with chemical plants. He says, "To date, no one has comprehensively assessed the security of chemical facilities."

There are 15,000 chemical plants scattered around the U.S. that produce, use or store 140 hazardous substances that will cause deadly harm to local populations if they?re released into the environment, and many are located in densely populated areas.

The Transportation Security Administration says 55 of the nation's 429 airports are most likely to be targeted by terrorists (but they won't say which ones). Only about 10 of them are considered to be most at risk of a terrorist attack.

The 55 airports on the list will be required to implement extra security measures when the nation goes on an orange (high) terror alert. The top 10 have to take even greater precautions, including random searchers of contractors and caterers and extra undercover and uniformed officers in terminals, as well as increased scrutiny of passenger lists.

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