Terrorists looking to attack U.S. utility facilities, report warns

A new intelligence report warns that extremists are looking to attack a U.S. utility company and have in fact attained insider positions and tried to coax information from utility-sector employees, ABC World News reports.

"Based on the reliable reporting of previous incidents, we have high confidence in our judgment that insiders and their actions pose a significant threat to the infrastructure and information systems of U.S. facilities," the bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security reads in part, World News quotes.

An attack on a utility company could cause potentially cause significant damage and casualties.

“If someone were determined and had the right access, the amount of damage that they could inflict could affect thousands of lives,” said Chad Sweet, former chief of staff at DHS and co-founder of the Chertoff Group.

Extremists are looking to place someone on the inside at these facilities, the report warns.

"There are a lot of very sensitive facilities where someone can get a job on the inside, get access to a control room, flip a switch, which causes an electric power grid to short circuit, causes a pipeline to explode," former White House counter-terrorism advisor and ABC News consultant Richard Clarke said.

The D.C. region has a number of high-profile sites, including a tank farm that's just off I-95 in southern Fairfax County.

Chante Bryan lives nearby and hopes everyone remains vigilant before the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

"With it coming up I have heard a little bit about the security threats and I would just say watch your back a little bit,” he said.

The Department of Homeland Security said there was no specific threat. "While DHS has no specific, credible intelligence of an imminent threat posed to the private sector utilities, several recent incidents highlight the on-going threat to infrastructure in the utility sectors from insiders and outsiders seeking facility-specific information that might be exploited in an attack,” a spokesperson told ABC7 News.

One concern could be related to suspected Al Waida recruit Sharif Mobley, an American who was arrested in Yemen. He worked at a number of nuclear power plants in the mid-Atlantic region. He passed the federal background checks.