W A S H I N G T O N, Oct. 23, 2000 -- ABCNEWS has learned that U.S. military personnel in three critical locations have been put on the very highest state of alert after being warned of potential terrorist attacks.
At the U.S. Air Force installation at Incirlik, Turkey, officials say “credible” and “specific” warnings have been received. The level of credibility about the warning is so high, that “even the Turks believe it,” one source told ABCNEWS, indicating the threat was very visible and believable.
Details surrounding the warnings are being closely held, but officials say the information generally involves surveillance of U.S. personnel and plans for a specific attack. The threat has grown in the last few days following initial concerns last week when U.S. military personnel said they were under surveillance.
Officials are particularly concerned that the base at Incirlik is a potential target because it is from that base that Operation Northern Watch is conducted over Iraq. About 3,400 Air Force personnel participate in that monitoring of the northern “no fly” zone over Iraq — a mission that would make the base a logical target for the terrorist network said to be headed by Osama bin Laden. The network has the avowed goal of forcing the U.S. military to leave the region.
In the Persian Gulf nations of Bahrain and Qatar, U.S. military forces have now been put on the very highest state of alert, known as “Threat Condition Delta.” This alert condition is imposed on forces in two circumstances: when a terrorist attack has occurred, or intelligence has been received that action against a specific location is likely.
In Bahrain, there are just fewer 1,000 military personnel assigned to the headquarters for the U.S. Central Command’s naval component. In Qatar, there are fewer than 100 U.S. military personnel who run an equipment depot, also on the highest state of alert.
Concern is so high in both Persian Gulf nations that the local international schools have been closed due to fears they could be targets. These schools are run for the children of U.S. military personnel as well as dozens of children from families of embassy delegations.
Officials are still trying to verify the threats against forces in Bahrain and Qatar. The information includes plans against U.S. military targets and even details that terrorists may have “identified” locations of explosives in the region that they could use in an attack.