Officials Warn Wall St. About Possible Terror Attacks
Security officials are warning the leaders of major Wall Street banks that al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen may be trying to plan attacks against those financial institutions or their leading executives, NBCNewYork has learned.
Intelligence officials stressed the threats are general in nature and there is "no indication of a targeted assassination plot" against any Wall Street executive. But NBCNewYork.com learned that officials fear the names of some top banking executives have been discussed by terror operatives overseas.
Intelligence analysts added they have a general but growing concern that operatives in Yemen may again try to send package bombs or biological or chemical agents through the mail to Wall Street bankers.
In recent weeks, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and New York Police Department officials have been briefing bank executives and their security departments on the nature of the threat information. Much of it was gleaned from al Qaeda writings like "Inspire" magazine, that recently warned of attacks targeting financial institutions.
The latest "Inspire" issue also made reference to trying to use anthrax in an attack, officials said.
NBC terror consultants also pointed to the Web writings of al Qaeda blogger Abu Suleiman Al-Nasser, who recently wrote: "Rush my Muslim brothers to targeting financial sites and the program sites of financial institutions, stock markets and money markets."
Al-Nasser is a blogger who has written about some previous al Qaeda plots, including a recent bombing attempt in Sweden, before much of the information was publicly known.
Banks like Goldman Sachs , Citibank , JPMorgan Chase , Barclays and others received updated security briefings from the FBI's JTTF, security officials told NBCNewYork.
Spokesmen for numerous banks declined to comment, instead referring all calls to law enforcement agencies.
Spokesmen for the NYPD, FBI and homeland security offices also declined comment about the recent briefings.
Wall Street banks do get regular security updates, but one official familiar with the latest briefings said there was added concern even though the threat information is non-specific.
As a precaution, police are urging Wall Street banks to further increase security in and around mailrooms and delivery of packages, especially those that might be addressed to those firms' top executives.
Part of this warning also comes as the result of last October's failed plot by Yemen terrorists to explode package bombs on airliners bound for U.S. cities.
Since 9-11, the NYPD has greatly stepped up security around Wall Street. Terror suspects have been caught allegedly scouting targets like the Citicorp Center and the New York Stock Exchange.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) who himself has extra security after his name appeared in a recent issue of "Inspire," said when al Qaeda terrorists publish threats, those threats should be taken seriously.
"Whenever a name is included ... it's always a cause for more concern because again the fear is that that's sending a specific signal to specific operatives in this country to take action," King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said.
Security officials said any banking executive whose name may have been discussed by al Qaeda-linked operatives overseas has been notified.