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Terror alert raised during the holidays

December 21, 2003
RenewAmerica staff




In a tone more emphatic than usual, U.S. officials warned that terrorists may strike again on American soil, with attacks possible during the holiday season and beyond.

On Sunday, the federal government raised the threat alert status from "elevated" to "high" risk. Under a high risk alert, citizens and security personnel are urged to be extra vigilant in spotting suspicious activity and in taking safety precautions.

Tom Ridge, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said the indications of multiple attacks on U.S. soil are "perhaps greater now than at any point since September 11, 2001."

Ridge continued, "Extremists abroad are anticipating near-term attacks that they believe will either rival or exceed the attacks that occurred in New York, in the Pentagon, in the fields of Pennsylvania nearly two years ago."

Possible threats reportedly could include suicide bombings or tanker truck hijackings, but Ridge stressed that airplane hijackings, despite increased airline security, remain a threat. Said Ridge, "Recent reporting reiterates--and this is a constant stream of reporting--that al-Qaida continues to consider using aircraft as a weapon. And they are constantly evaluating procedures, both in the United States and elsewhere, to find gaps in our security posture that could be exploited."

In addition to airline security, the integrity of U.S. borders has raised concerns over national security. Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum says lax immigration policies put the nation at risk, and she points out that the 9/11 hijackers would have been denied visas if the then-existing law had been followed.

Despite these concerns, Secretary Ridge last week said he favored amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants. "The bottom line is, as a country, we have to come to grips with the presence of 8 to 12 million illegals, afford them some kind of legal status some way," Ridge said last week in Florida.


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