Washington: A top US official on Monday said the administration had "sufficient information" of an impending terror threat that warranted a travel alert for its citizens in Europe, suggesting that al Qaeda aims to harm American interests both overseas and inside the country.
The US has issued a terror alert asking its citizens to be careful while travelling to Europe after a terror plot by Pakistan-based militants to launch Mumbai-type attacks in European cities unravelled.
US Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday that al Qaeda and its extremist allies aim to harm American interests both overseas and inside the country and it was this consideration that prompted the State Department to issue a travel advisory.
"There`s no question that al Qaeda and its affiliates want to do harm to American interests both abroad and here in our homeland... We have seen that very recently, both in Detroit, with the attempt in Times Square.”
"We have no reason to believe that al Qaeda is not in the process of trying to do exactly that now," Holder told reporters at a news conference.
He said the US agencies are monitoring all information and their guard remains up.
"There`s not a basis for us to issue anything other than what we have done and that is the threat stream that is focused on Europe.”
"Our attention remains focused on the US as well, and there is a good basis for that on the basis of what we have seen over the recent past," Holder said in response to a question.
Refusing to get into specifics about the nature of the intelligence on the latest al Qaeda plot, Holder said there certainly is a foundation for the alert that the State Department has issued.
"We use human sources. We use other means and it is an accumulation of all of that that led us to the place where we are today," he said.
"I wouldn`t say that we have specific information about a particular place, a particular time. And yet we have, I think, sufficient information that justified the issuing of the alert," he said.
He said the US faced a similar threat in 1999 – the "millennium threat" where terror plots were unearthed against the US.
"We had information that was not as specific as you`d want it to be so that you could arrest somebody and yet we thought it was incumbent upon us then as we do now to advise the American people about the information that we have so that they can conduct themselves in a way that minimises the chances that anybody will be harmed," he said.