(IsraelWire-12/23-03:23-IST) Last week's bombing of Iraq has further increased the chance of a terrorist attack against Americans living and traveling abroad, US officials told CNN.
Serious threats against the United States and its citizens have doubled since the August 7 terrorist bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, according to a senior law enforcement source who declined to give specific numbers.
Law enforcement and intelligence sources say the missile attacks against Iraq, combined with US air raids in August against alleged terrorist sites in Afghanistan and Sudan, have focused anti-American sentiment among suspected terrorist groups.
State Department precautions
As a precaution against retaliation, the State Department in the past week:
Warned US officials in the Persian Gulf of a possible attack in the next 30 days.
Temporarily shut down most US embassies in Africa.
Issued a caution to US citizens traveling abroad.
In addition, FBI rapid-deployment teams, which respond to large-scale terrorism strikes against Americans overseas, are at a high state of alert.
"Clearly, at a time like right now, when we anticipate the possibility of an act against the United States, (security) efforts will be stepped up," said Harry "Skip" Brandon, a former senior FBI intelligence official.
FBI sources say they have yet to receive any evidence of a specific attack. Still, the bureau has made a number of precautionary moves including:
-- Mobilizing its new $20 million communications hub.
-- Advising local police departments to closely monitor water supplies, telephone switching centers and electrical systems.
Other US government agencies took precautions, too. Last week, security was stepped up at airports and thousands of federal buildings.
The General Services Administration, which oversees federal buildings, said security had been raised to a maximum state of alert from a heightened security alert, meaning more police presence and intensive screening.
Despite the infrequency of attacks on US soil, threats of terrorism are routine. In fact, US embassies receive thousands per year. But given the current climate, US authorities are watching for any hint of terrorist planning or activity. (CNN)