WASHINGTON — The government is aware of no credible or specific information that points to any terror plot tied to the anniversary of the September 2001 attacks, according to a new confidential threat assessment from the FBI and Homeland Security Department obtained by The Associated Press.
The new assessment, dated Thursday, said that intelligence agencies remain concerned that al-Qaida and its affiliates are committed to carrying out attacks on Western targets. But it said there was no information pointing to any known plot. The bulletin made no mention of Syria, even as President Barack Obama sought congressional approval to use military force against the Syrian government.
Four Americans were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on last year's anniversary. Three others were killed and more than 260 others were injured when two men set off bombs near the finish line of the popular Boston Marathon in April. There was no specific or credible intelligence about those attacks, either.
The terror threat to the U.S. is different than it was 12 years ago. In 2001, there was credible intelligence about a terror plot, but that information wasn't shared with the right people. Today, the threat is more diffuse. Cyberattacks threaten to disrupt major U.S. operations in the government and the private sector. Lone actors represent another threat — one or two people who are not directly affiliated with al-Qaida but who subscribe to the terror group's ideology and want to strike out because they disagree with U.S. policies.
Today, officials are concerned about retaliatory strikes if Obama moves forward with plans to use military force against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime, which the administration condemns for the death of 1,429 in a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21 near Damascus. Assad's government blames the episode on rebels who have been seeking to overthrow his government. Iraqi officials and militant groups have said that Iranian-backed Shiite militias are threatening to retaliate against American interests inside Iraq if the U.S. goes ahead with strikes, as Tehran is a close ally of Assad.