Heightened Alert

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Sunday, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said there has been a "substantial increase" in the volume of threat-related reports.

Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge said the signs of trouble may be greater than at any time since September 11th, 2001. Ridge says, “The information we have indicates that extremists abroad are anticipating near term attacks that they believe will either rival or exceed the attacks that occurred in New York and the Pentagon and in the Fields of Pennsylvania nearly two years ago.”

U.S. officials say the new warning was triggered by a “persistent drumbeat of threatening chatter” picked up in communications intercepts over the last several weeks. Analysts were ordered to 'rescrub' the raw intelligence data over the weekend. Something in that detailed review raised the alarm.

At the most obvious targets, the reaction was swift. From the streets of New York City to national landmarks and airports packed with holiday travelers, evidence everywhere that the heightened threat alert had immediately taken effect. The Homeland Security Chief warned Al-Qaeda continues to look at aircraft as a potential weapon.

The terror threat level was last raised to orange on May 5th, after attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco. The threat level was returned to yellow eleven days later.