FBI Terror Bulletin for Holiday Season/Napolitano: My Assessment is That the Threat Environment Is Increasingly Active

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security sent a bulletin to law enforcement nationwide Thursday that federal authorities worry terrorists will try to rattle Americans by attacking during the holidays, and lists concerns including car bombs, trucks ramming crowds and a Mumbai-style small arms attack.

“holiday season provided attractive opportunities for terrorists”

“It is imperative that law enforcement and security personnel remain alert for indicators of attack planning.”

“We are concerned these terrorists may seek to exploit the likely significant psychological impact of an attack targeting mass gatherings in large metropolitan areas during the 2010 holiday season, which has symbolic importance to many in the United States,” The “Security Awareness for the Holiday Season” bulletin states.

The bulletin cites no specific threat, but is based on a persistent, evolving threat, including the attempted Christmas Day underwear bombing of Northwest 253 in 2009, Faisal Shahzad’s failed Times Square car bomb last spring, the “printer bomb” cargo plane plot last October, and a number of alleged would-be bombers caught in stings in Oregon and Chicago.

My assessment is that the threat environment is increasingly active.
— United States Secretary of Homeland Security of the United States

“During the last year,” said the bulletin, “al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have attempted to carry out attacks in the United States, thereby raising their international profile. We cannot discount the possibility that other al-Qa’ida-linked groups, such as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, Lashkar-e Tayyiba, or al-Shabaab, will attempt to target the Homeland during the holiday season.”

The document suggests that terrorists may consider public gatherings like “sporting events, parades, religious and cultural activities” to be attractive targets. “Attacks against these targets could maximize the psychological impact on the American public given the symbolic importance of the holiday season to many in the United States,” says the bulletin. “Attacks against air cargo during this busy season are also a concern.”

Chicago Man, Sami Samir Hassoun, Arrested in Terrorist Bomb Plot in Wrigleyville
SUN SEP 19 2010 — Sami Samir Hassoun, 22, of the 4700 block of North Kedzie, was arrested and charged with plotting to blow up a high-powered explosive outside Slugger’s Wrigleyville bar just after midnight Sunday — immediately after placing what he believed to be a live explosive into a garbage can near the corner of West Eddy and Clark streets near Wrigley Field. Hassoun was arrested without incident on Seminary Avenue near the 3500 block of North Clark Street, by members of the Chicago FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The arrest followed an investigation that accelerated in June of this year. Hassoun was charged in a criminal complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago with one count each of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted use of an explosive device, both of which are felony offenses.

Somali Mohamed Osman Mohamud Arrested in Sting to Blow Up Van at Portland, Oregon Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
FRI NOV 27 2010 — Somali-born teenager Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested in a sting operation at 5:45 p.m. Friday at Southwest Yamhill Street and Sixth Avenue, Portland, Oregon while trying to blow up a van he believed was loaded with explosives at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Mohamud, of Corvallis, Oregon, drove a van to the ceremony and was arrested immediately after dialing a cellphone that he thought would detonate the explosives about 20 minutes before the tree lighting was to occur. The van was loaded with fake explosives.