(WASHINGTON) — For the first time in more than a decade, there is “no active intelligence” suggesting a possible terror attack timed to the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, counter-terrorism officials from five American agencies told ABC News.
But the officials said there is growing concern that al Qaeda is targeting next summer’s Olympic games, about which one law enforcement official said the threat level is considered “high,” although there is no specific information pointing to an attack on the games.
“They do not want to expend any operatives or resources now on anything else, other than the Olympics,” said the official, who was briefed on the latest electronic intercepts.
This week, on a teleconference involving American law enforcement and intelligence agencies, officials reported that electronic intercepts and human sources had turned up no evidence of a pending threat over the next few weeks.
In fact, “There are explicit discussions that nothing should be scheduled for the holiday period,” the official told ABC News.
Even so, U.S. officials said there is going to be an “informal heightened alert status” given past al Qaeda efforts around the end of the year.
“It’s too soon to say the coast is clear,” said a U.S. counter-terrorism official.
Officials said they remain concerned about retaliatory attacks for the deaths of Osama bin Laden and radical al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
“We are not letting our guard down,” the official said, pointing out that specific and credible threat information often does not emerge until days before a particular event.
In many cases, of course, there has been no specific warning.
In 2009, an attempt to bring down a U.S. jetliner over Detroit failed when an al Qaeda recruit failed to ignite explosives hidden in his underwear.
In 2000, U.S. law enforcement disrupted a bomb attack supposedly timed to New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles and Seattle.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Seth Fiegerman, CNN
Selena Larson, CNN
Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN