March 17, 2003

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March 17, 2003

U.S. Department
of Transportation
Office of Intelligence
and Security (OIS)



Subject; Homeland Security Advisory System – Threat Level Raised from Yellow (Elevated) to Orange (High)
Number 03-03
Issued: March 17, 2003
Expiration; None

TSJR 03-03 (Elevation in Threat level): ORANGE

The U. S. Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta calls your attention to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge’s statement this evening raising the Homeland Security Advisory System (FISAS) Threat Condition level from Yellow (Elevated) to Orange (High). This TSIR provides the latest advisory from U.S. law enforcement arid intelligence agencies addressing the current threat and reminding industry to take appropriate precautions and report any unusual activities to the FBI. This Advisory is based upon publicly released information and may be shared within the transportation community.


“The Department of Homeland Security in consultation with the Homeland Security Council, has made the decision to raise the national threat level from an Elevated to High risk of terrorist attack or Level Orange. The Intelligence Community believes that terrorists will attempt multiple attacks against U.S. arid Coalition targets worldwide in the event of a US-led military campaign against Saddam Hussein. A large volume of reporting across a range of sources, some of which are highly reliable, indicates that Al Qaida probably would attempt to launch terrorist attacks against U.S. interests claiming they were defending Muslims or the “Iraqi people” rather than Saddam Hussein’s regime.

While the March 1 arrest of senior Al Qaida operative, Khalid Shaykh Muhammad (KSM) has put the Al Qaida senior leadership on the defensive — and will be debilitating in the long term —the Intelligence Community believes that KSM’s capture will not necessarily affect operations that are ready or nearly ready for execution. There are many recent indications that Al-Qaida’s planning includes the use of chemical, biological, and/or radiological material.

Intelligence reporting also indicates that while Al-Qaida and those sympathetic to their cause are a principal threat, Iraqi state agents, Iraqi surrogate groups, other regional extremist organizations, and ad hoc groups or disgruntled individuals not connected to existing organizations or state agencies, may use this time period to conduct terrorist attacks against the US., or our interests abroad.

In recent months, there have been reports of suspicious activity in and around military faci1ities ports, waterways, general infrastructure (bridges, dams, power generating facilities), and targets that are considered symbolic to U.S. power and influence, The discovery of ricin production in London raises the concern of the Intelligence Community that extremists are planning to follow through on longstanding threats of poison plots against U.S. British and Israeli interests — and possibly other targets in Europe.

The Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with numerous departments of the federal government has begun implementing increased protective measures under a comprehensive national plan to protect the Homeland “Operation Liberty Shield.” Operation Liberty Shield will increase security at our borders, strengthen transportation sector protections, enhance security at our critical infrastructure, increase public health preparedness and make sure all federal response assets can be deployed quickly.

Tonight, I have spoken to the nation’s Governors and asked them to deploy the National Guard or additional police forces to improve security at critical locations throughout their states. Other state, local and private sector leaders are also being contacted to engage their support to increase the nation’s security.

These heightened security measures will help deter terrorism and increase protection of America and Americans. In the meantime, as on the other occasions when the national threat level has been increased, we encourage members of the public to continue their daily work, family and leisure activities with a heightened awareness.”

Recommended Actions:

The national threat level has been raised from “ELEVATED” (Yellow) to “HIGH” (Orange). This is based on specific intelligence received and analyzed by the full U.S. Intelligence Community.

Recipients are reminded to remain alert to the potential for such targeting. Information on suspicious activity possibly related to such targeting should be reported immediately to the nearest FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) or local FBI field office. State and local law enforcement are encouraged to discuss appropriate measures for their respective communities with their designated JTTF.

Modal authorities and infrastructure owners and operators are recommended to evaluate current security procedures and apply, as appropriate, protective measures that correspond to Threat Condition HIGH (Orange) under the Homeland Security Advisory System.

U.S. DOT reminds the transportation industry can report information concerning suspicious activity to their local FBI office through the FBI website or to the National infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) at its website


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