Terrorism

Could An Al-Qaida-Linked Terrorist Attack Postpone The Presidential Election?

Federal officials have warned authorities in New York City, Texas and Virginia about an unspecific threat of attacks by the al-Qaida militant group around Election Day, putting local law enforcement on alert the weekend before Tuesday’s vote, officials said on Friday.

A U.S. government source in Washington said some federal agencies sent bulletins to local and state officials flagging the information but that the threat was relatively low-level.

A U.S. official familiar with the threat information said that it was “uncorroborated,” but federal agencies believed that they needed nonetheless to remain vigilant.

The New York City Police Department and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey were alerted to the information, the local agencies said.

The Port Authority, which operates airports, tunnels, and bridges around New York City, is continuing high levels of patrol it has had in place, said spokesman Steve Coleman.

He declined to offer details on the warning, but the police department said the threat report lacked specifics and was still being assessed.

“We are aware of the information,” the department said in a statement, adding that it was working with intelligence agencies and the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Although some of the attention of U.S. authorities has shifted to Islamic State-inspired attacks, the al-Qaida network has shown resilience more than 15 years after it was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

Last month, the United States carried out strikes in Afghanistan targeting two of al-Qaida’s senior leaders in the country, and al-Qaida’s Yemen branch has posed a risk to merchant ships in waterways nearby.

“We still view al-Qaida and the various al-Qaida affiliates and nodes as a principal counterterrorism priority,” Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, told the Senate’s homeland security committee in September, using an alternative spelling for the group.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said his office was monitoring the situation. “Texans should go about their daily lives as usual, but remain vigilant over the next several days and report any suspicious activity,” Abbott, a Republican, said in a statement.

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