Al-Qaeda terrorists could be planning an attack in three states, including Texas, on the Monday before the presidential election, according to CBS News.
Sources revealed the information to a producer with the news organization and stated U.S. intelligence alerted joint terrorism task forces about the possible al-Qaeda plan, but CBS News, who broke the story, reported the credibility of the threat was unconfirmed. The anonymous sources said no specific locations were mentioned by intelligence, but CBS News reported, “It is believed New York, Texas, and Virginia are all possible targets.”
The Associated Press later reported the same trio states as being mentioned.
Reuters has previously reported that New York law enforcement authorities were informed about possible al Qaeda attacks around Election Day, but the NYPD said the information, “lacks specificity,” according to the Associated Press.
The AP reported the FBI said Friday it’s working with law enforcement agencies and sharing intelligence reports ahead of the Election and that they regularly assess “all possible security threats ahead of major events.”
Major events like the Super Bowl, Election Day, and other dates like July 4th have historically put authorities on higher alert for possible terrorist threats.
APD released the following statement regarding the potential threat:
"The Austin Police Department continues to monitor the reported threats directed towards next week’s National elections. We are working closely with all our public safety partners, both locally and federally. APD had already enhanced our security posture for next week and will make any necessary additional adjustments if the need arises. It is important for our community to remain vigilant and report any suspicious behavior or activity."
Governor Greg Abbott released a statement about the possible threat that said,
“My office is working with law enforcement officials and we are continuing to monitor the situation in close coordination with the Texas Department of Public Safety. Texans should go about their daily lives as usual, but remain vigilant over the next several days and report any suspicious activity to state or local law enforcement. The State of Texas will continue to do everything it can to ensure the safety and security of its citizens.”
When it comes to a possible threat, Stratfor’s Vice President of Intelligence and former U.S. counter terrorism agent Fred Burton put it thusly, “When isn’t AQ planning attacks?” #AlQaeda.
"Typically, those kinds of leaks originate once dissemination is made from the originator," Burton said in an interview with KVUE News.
He went on to explain the source of the information likely tipped off one of the "Big 6" federal agencies who then warned other agencies.
"When it's disseminated, it literally goes to everybody," Burton said. "TSA, you know all the entities within DHS, all the entities within DOD."
Burton said that makes leaks common. Still he is "puzzled" by the timing of the leak.
"The timing of this is something that's certainly very interesting because al Qaeda would very much like to shape the control of the election in some manner so at least they can claim credit so they can claim to have a high degree of relevancy," said Burton.
Burton said people should not be afraid of carrying out their normal activities.
"Just because a group like al Qaeda calls for this kind of attack doesn't necessarily mean they have an organized infrastructure to be able to carry that out. The more probable scenario would be that al Qaeda has released something along these lines, hoping that it would inspire an individual, a lone actor, to carry out some sort of violence."
That's why Burton says counter-terrorism agents are now working to authorize the credibility of the threat.
"Everyday, around the world, counter-terrorism forces from many different nations are looking at a range of different threats."