‘US doing everything possible to prevent terror attack’

A top US anti-terror official that intelligence and law enforcement agencies were doing everything to thwart any such attempt.

Washington: Expressing concern over reports
that al Qaeda`s is planning to carry terror attacks during
Christmas holidays, a top US anti-terror official today that
intelligence and law enforcement agencies were doing
everything to thwart any such attempt.

"We`re concerned about al Qaeda`s plans to carry out
attacks, and the Department of State had issued an advisory
about Europe and about plans by al Qaeda to try to carry out
attacks there," said top White House anti-terror advisor John
Brennan.

"We remain vigilant to attempts by Al Qaeda and other
terrorist organisations to carry out cowardly attacks against
innocent men, women and children," Brennan told a White House
news conference.

"As we enter the peak of another holiday season, the
homeland security, law enforcement and intelligence
communities are collectively focused on doing everything they
can do to prevent terrorists from disrupting the safety and
security of Americans," he said.

Brennan said his statement was designed to reassure
Americans over the holiday season, not alarm them.

He said the country is working very closely with other
governments to share all threat information immediately and to
coordinate closely our counterterrorism and security
activities.

These international partnerships are critically important
to America`s ability to identify would-be terrorists and to
thwart their plans before they are able to act, he added.

"We do not limit our focus to one geographic area. That`s
why we are constantly looking at whether or not there is
something that is directed at the homeland here," he said.

"We always receive reporting. What we try to do is to
investigate it and to scrutinize it very carefully. So we need
to be on top of our game, particularly during the holiday
season, but throughout the year," Brennan said.

The US is concerned and is staying vigilant about both
ends of that spectrum as far as a large-scale attack, as well
as smaller-scale ones, he said. Yesterday, senior officials from departments and
agencies met at the White House, at the direction of Obama, to
review the latest threat reporting, and to coordinate security
and counterterrorism plans that will be in place during the
holiday season.

The effort was to avoid the repeat of underwear
bombing last year.

Brennan said Obama has been provided an update on the
many steps that have been taken over the past year to enhance
US counterterrorism capabilities as a result of the
after-action reviews on several terrorism and security-related
incidents, including the tragic shooting at Fort Hood, Texas,
the attempted bombings of passenger and cargo aircraft, as
well as of Times Square in New York City.

These enhancements, he said, include: Protocols for
strengthened cooperation and information-sharing between the
Department of Defense and the FBI.

Clarified analytic responsibilities and new analytic
training courses within the counterterrorism community.
Improvements and refinements in the watch-listing
process, as well in information technology systems that
service the counterterrorism community.

The accelerated deployment of advanced imaging
technology at domestic airports, and advances in cargo
screening and international aviation security cooperation.

"Protecting the American people from the scourge of
terrorism is an ongoing and constantly evolving process. It is
the goal of the counterterrorism community to stay several
steps ahead of our terrorist adversaries so that we can stop
terrorists dead in their tracks before they are able to carry
out either small-scale or potentially devastating attacks,"
Brennan said.

"I think the enhancements we have made to our security
over the past decade has made it much more difficult for
terrorists to conduct these large-scale attacks. We`ve
degraded their capabilities. We`ve degraded their training
capabilities and ability to plot and to move operatives, he
said.

"So what we have seen recently is increased focus, I
think, on the part of terrorist groups to try to carry out
some of these smaller- scale attacks. And so we are staying
very focused on our ability to detect those types of attacks
and stop them, whether or not they`re by individuals or
they`re part of a larger organizational effort," Brennan said.

PTI

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