Specific threat puts U.S. forces on highest alert

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — American forces — including the Everett-based USS Abraham Lincoln — in two small Persian Gulf states and in Turkey are on a heightened state of alert because of specific new indications of terrorist threats, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

The threat condition in Bahrain and Qatar was raised to "Delta," the highest possible level, this past weekend, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said.

Immediately after the Cole attack, all 23 ships in the Bahrain-based 5th Fleet were sent out of port to reduce their vulnerability to terrorist attack. Quigley said Tuesday that all ships — including the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, two cruisers, five destroyers, two frigates, one attack submarine, two mine hunters and various other assault and support ships — will remain at sea "for the future."

Some of the 5th Fleet ships are in or near Aden to support the Cole, which sustained a huge hole in its hull.

Quigley said the threat condition for U.S. forces at Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey was elevated more than a week ago to "Charlie" level, the second-highest threat condition. Incirlik is the hub for American and British warplanes enforcing a no-fly zone over northern Iraq.

Quigley said the decision to raise alert levels was based on intelligence reports of "multiple threats" from "multiple sources." He said the threats were specific, but the credibility of the sources was unknown.

The U.S. military employs four levels of security alert above threat condition "normal." They are "Alpha," "Bravo," "Charlie" and "Delta."

Also, the State Department warned Americans to avoid travel to Israel because of a "heightened threat of terrorist incidents in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza."

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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