Reports of suspicious activity up 60% says D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier
WASHINGTON (AP) - Reports of suspicious activity and vehicles in the nation's capital are up 60 percent in the wake of an investigation of a terror threat, Police Chief Cathy Lanier said Saturday, and police are checking every report.
For days, counterterrorism officials have been chasing a tip that al-Qaida may have sent three men to the United States to detonate a car bomb.
Senior U.S. officials said there's no evidence that anyone linked to al-Qaida has entered the country to carry out an attack on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The officials insisted on anonymity to discuss the investigation.
Police and FBI agents remain on alert as investigators look for proof of a plot against Washington or New York. By Saturday, there was still no intelligence backing that up and officials continued to question the validity of the initial tip.
James McJunkin, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's field office in Washington, said Saturday his office was actively following the threat and investigating leads they get.
"We vet these threats routinely," he said.
He would not talk about reports that the threat involved two Americans or people traveling with American documents, but said that American involvement can change an investigation.
"I think that the fact that an individual, if he is involved in a terror threat or terror planning, is a U.S. citizen is concerning because we don't expect that from our citizens, but it also provides us with a little bit less visibility on people," McJunkin said. "We don't do surveillance on American citizens short of a criminal investigation and so we're a little bit blind sometimes about the U.S. citizens that might be involved."
He urged people to go about their plans and enjoy the weekend.
"Whatever you have plans for it's a beautiful day. It's going to be a beautiful weekend," McJunkin said. "It's college football Saturday. Tomorrow is the start of the NFL season. So we expect the public is going to be out enjoying what it means to be an American."