No Known Terror Threat Looming Over July 4 Holiday, U.S. Officials Say
WASHINGTON -- New evidence uncovered from Usama bin Laden's compound shows that the terror leader was focused on plotting attacks to coincide with symbolic dates, like the Fourth of July, but intelligence officials told Fox News on Tuesday they have no specific or credible information that terrorists intend to strike over the upcoming holiday weekend.
As recently as February 2010, Al Qaeda was weighing plots against the U.S. during major holidays, including Independence Day and the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to documents found in bin Laden's home in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
A joint FBI and Homeland Security Department intelligence bulletin that covers Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day has been released, but doesn't include any new information. It shows that counterterrorism officials remain concerned that extremists will target large gatherings in major urban areas across the U.S. Yet they have no specific intelligence about an attack tied to the July Fourth holiday.
The bulletin reportedly warns that large gatherings, such as the annual fireworks display in New York City, make "especially attractive targets during the holiday season."
"Such targets offer the opportunity to inflict mass casualties, with the added objectives of causing economic and psychological damage on the United States," says the bulletin, as reported by the International Business Times.
In May, bin Laden was killed in a U.S. military operation in Pakistan, dealing a major blow to Al Qaeda. The U.S. has essentially completed the review of documents taken from bin Laden's compound, though intelligence analysts will continue to mine the data for a long time.
With bin Laden's death, U.S. officials told Fox News they are watching for three things: whether plots were already in the pipeline before the Al Qaeda leader's death, whether the Al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia (where Americans now hold senior positions) will "step up" with a major strike to fill the void left by bin Laden -- or whether lone wolfs who are "self radicalized" will use bin Laden's death as a justification to launch attacks to coincide with the Sept. 11 anniversary.
Counterterrorism officials say the driving factor for the timing of attacks is whether the operatives are ready to carry out the plan.
The bulletin reportedly noted that Al Qaeda has always strived to pull off a high-profile attack inside the U.S. regardless of the date.
"Previous examples of this desire (executing a high-profile attack) include the May 2010 attempted detonation of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in Times Square, the guilty plea in February 2010 to an Al Qaeda plot to attack the New York City subway using improvised explosive devices, and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's inclusion of photos of and references to major U.S. cities in their Inspire magazine," the bulletin reportedly says.
Fox News' Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.