WASHINGTON – Al-Qaida may be recruiting non-Arabs who are less likely to attract the notice of security personnel to carry out attacks inside the United States, the FBI warned on Friday.
The terror network especially seeks operatives who have U.S. citizenship or legal residency status, the FBI’s counterterrorism division said in its weekly bulletin to 18,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide.
“Finding operatives with U.S. status would greatly facilitate al-Qaida’s ability to carry out an attack within the United States,” the bulletin said.
The new warning comes amid a continuous stream of intelligence indicating that al-Qaida is determined to strike the United States in the summer or fall. U.S. officials have said the terror network blamed for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks hopes to inflict mass casualties again and disrupt the U.S. political process in this presidential election year.
The latest FBI bulletin again makes no mention of a possible time, place or method of attack. Security is expected to be especially tight at this summer’s political conventions, which begin July 26 with the Democratic Party’s gathering in Boston. The GOP convention is in late August.
Using non-Arabs might make it easier for al-Qaida to circumvent security measures in Europe and the United States, the bulletin said. Of special concern are people with ties to Islamic extremist groups in North Africa and parts of Asia outside the Middle East.
Because of its hardline Muslim views, al-Qaida favors using male operatives between the ages of 18 and 35 in its attacks, the FBI said. But women could also be recruited, especially from areas considered more liberal on the subject such as North and East Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, the FBI bulletin said.