CBS News Logo Terror alerts coming to Facebook, Twitter

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government's new system to replace the five color-coded terror alerts will have two levels of warnings — elevated and imminent — that will be relayed to the public only under certain circumstances for limited periods of time, sometimes using Facebook and Twitter, according to a draft Homeland Security Department plan obtained by The Associated Press. Some terror warnings could be withheld from the public entirely if announcing a threat would risk exposing an intelligence operation or a current investigation, according to the government's confidential plan. Like a carton of milk, the new terror warnings will each come with a stamped expiration date. The 19-page document, marked "for official use only" and dated April 1, describes the step-by-step process that would occur behind the scenes when the government believes terrorists might be threatening Americans. It describes the sequence of notifying members of Congress, then counterterrorism officials in states and cities and then governors and mayors and, ultimately, the public. It specifies even details about how many minutes U.S. officials can wait before organizing urgent conference calls among themselves to discuss pending threats. It places the Homeland Security secretary, currently Janet Napolitano, in charge of the so-called National Terrorism Advisory System. The new terror alerts would also be published online using Facebook and Twitter "when appropriate," the plan said, but only after federal, state and local government leaders have already been notified. The new system is expected to be in place by April 27. The government has always struggled with how much information it can share with the public about specific threats, sometimes over fears it would reveal classified intelligence or law enforcement efforts to disrupt an unfolding plot. But the color warnings that became one of the government's most visible anti-terrorism programs since the September 2001 attacks were Continue Reading

CBS News Logo Sweden raises terror alert amid hunt for suspect

The head of Sweden's intelligence service SAPO says police are searching for a man who is wanted in connection with a terror probe. Anders Thornberg said Wednesday that police have launched "a preliminary investigation regarding preparation for a terrorist offense." He said the Swedish case was not linked to the Paris attacks. He said the suspect had entered Sweden this week, but declined to give any further details about the person. The agency said earlier Wednesday it has raised the Scandinavian country's terror alert to the second-highest level after it received "concrete information." Continue Reading

CBS News Logo London terror attack on Muslims spurs officials to try to ease tensions

LONDON -- British authorities and Islamic leaders moved swiftly to ease concerns in the Muslim community after a man plowed a large van into a crowd of worshippers outside a north London mosque early Monday, injuring at least nine people. Prime Minister Theresa May identified the driver only as a 48-year-old white male. British Security Minister Ben Wallace said authorities were aware of rising far-right activity but the suspect was not known to them prior to the attack. Police are treating the incident as a terror attack. One man died at the scene, although he had been receiving first aid at the time and it wasn't clear if he died as a result of the attack or from something else. The chaos outside the Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park follows three Islamist-inspired attacks over the past three months that have triggered a surge in hate crimes around Britain. The Metropolitan Police Service, already stretched by its investigations of the earlier attacks and an apartment fire at the high-rise Grenfell Tower that is believed to have killed 79 people, immediately announced it was putting extra patrols on the streets to protect the public. Police will assess the security of mosques and provide any additional resources needed ahead of celebrations marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, May announced. "This was an attack on Muslims near their place of worship," she said in a televised address. "And like all terrorism, in whatever form, it shares the same fundamental goal. It seeks to drive us apart - and to break the precious bonds of solidarity and citizenship that we share in this country. We will not let this happen." The attack occurred about 12:20 a.m. when a speeding van swerved into worshippers who were giving first aid to a man outside the mosque. That man later died. A man who said he helped tackle the van driver to the ground and hold him until police arrived said the suspect kept shouting that he "wanted to kill more Muslims." Another witness, Khalid Continue Reading

Brussels lowers threat level, still on hunt for last Paris attacker and any accomplices

Belgian police continued their hunt for the lone surviving Paris attacker and other accomplices with three more raids Thursday — but no arrests were made, officials said. Brussels had been on lockdown since the weekend as officials imposed the highest-possible terror alert level on the European city. Home to the European Union and NATO headquarters, Brussels faced a “serious and imminent” threat of terrorist attack, officials said. WORLDWIDE TRAVEL ALERT ISSUED OVER TERROR THREATS But in an unexpected move, officials lowered the warning Thursday to the second-highest level, downgrading the threat to “possible and likely.” The latest raids followed a week of intense searching for fugitive Salah Abdeslam, who’s believed to be the lone surviving extremist who participated in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. Abdeslam, 26, was friends with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the chief ISIS plotter who schemed with seven others to launch a violent assault on Paris — murdering 130 people and leaving 368 wounded. The Brussels-born Abdeslam is believed to have slipped back into Belgium the day after the Paris attacks. Since Sunday, Belgian police carried out six raids across the city — but no firearms or explosives were found. Thursday’s raid focused on Sambreville, a town about 50 miles outside of Brussels near the French border. Earlier that day, an anti-terrorism squad was called to a mosque to decontaminate several people as a precaution after a suspicious package full of white powder was left there. The person who opened it saw the mysterious substance and called police. It’s not yet known what the substance was but authorities said it was not radioactive. German authorities also conducted a mosque raid Thursday afternoon arresting two people suspected of belonging to an Islamist extremist group. Armed police stormed into the city’s western neighborhood of Continue Reading

U.S. Embassy Orders Americans in Belgium to ‘Shelter in Place’ as Terror Alert Raised to Highest Level

Maher: Liberal Idea That Muslims Share American Values Is 'Bulls**t' Trump Clarifies He Wants a Database for Refugees, Not All U.S. Muslims Americans in Belgium were ordered “to shelter in place” Saturday after local authorities warned that the threat of a terrorist attack in the country’s capital is serious and imminent. The U.S. Embassy in Brussels also ordered American citizens to remain at home as the city was placed on lockdown in response to the terrorist threat. The national crisis center raised its terrorism alert Saturday to its highest level as Belgian police continued to search for a suspect in the Paris attacks that killed 130 people. In a statement on its website Saturday the embassy informed Americans that “if you must go out, avoid large crowds.” The warning also urged U.S. citizens to “exercise caution in public transportation systems, sporting events, residential areas, business offices, shopping malls and other tourist destinations.” Belgian leaders raised the terrorism alert to Level 4, which indicates a “serious and immediate threat.” Read the full report here. Recite the Koran or Die: At Least 27 Dead After Terror Siege at Mali Hotel Police: Cousin of Paris Attacks Ringleader Didn't Blow Herself Up Ambassador Warns of 'Blind Spot' in Tracking Syrians in South America Continue Reading

Ex-police worker, Muslim convert are among six terror suspects rounded up in raid near London’s Olympic park

In lightning predawn raids across London, anti-terrorism cops arrested six people, including a former Scotland Yard patrol officer nabbed in the shadow of Olympic Park. Police in black masks set off smoke grenades before bursting into homes Wednesday morning and grabbing members of a suspected terror cell. Authorities insisted there was no evidence of a plot against the Olympics, though they’re on high alert as the July 27 start of the Summer Games approaches. The raids followed the arrest of two men who were nabbed on a dinghy near the Olympic canoeing venue, questioned for two days and released. The British Army also closed a highway for hours Wednesday after someone on a London-bound bus reported seeing “vapor” — which turned out to be from an electronic cigarette. The five men and one woman arrested in the London raids are British Muslims, an activist said. Newspapers identified one as Richard Dart, a Christian-raised Muslim convert who follows a radical cleric and says soldiers returning from Afghanistan are murderers. Three were brothers of Bangladeshi descent. One of them had worked for Scotland Yard from 2007 to 2009 as a support officer who patrols the streets but cannot arrest anyone. That takedown happened just a half-mile from the main Olympic site, where athletes from around the globe will live and compete. John Smallshaw, who lives in the house, heard “five loud bangs in quick succession” before police in balaclavas stormed in. Mark Window, who lives across the street, told the Evening Standard he was awoken by one big blast followed by “smaller explosions like firecrackers going off. “There followed a lot of confusion and smoke,” Window said. “There were about eight black clad figures who seemed to be wearing gas masks and you couldn’t tell if it was people messing about or real.” Simultaneously, a man and a woman were Continue Reading

U.K. raises terror threat level to ‘severe’

The United Kingdom raised its terror threat level to "severe" on Friday in response to events in Iraq and Syria."What we're facing in Iraq now with ISIL is a greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before," U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said in a news conference from 10 Downing Street, referring to the Islamic State by its former name, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant."With ISIL, we are facing a terrorist organization not being hosted in a country but actually seeking to establish and then violently expand its own terrorist state," he added.There is no specific threat or information suggesting that an attack is imminent; however, the "severe" threat level indicates a terrorist attack is "highly likely." Severe is the second-highest of five possible threat levels."This is not some foreign conflict thousands of miles from home that we can hope to ignore," Cameron said. "The ambition to create an extremist caliphate in the heart of Iraq and Syria is a threat to our own security here in the U.K." In the U.S., there were no current terror alerts on the National Terrorism Advisory System, according to its website ."I don't anticipate at this point that there is a plan to change that level," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said at a press briefing Friday. U.S. intelligence shows "no evidence or indication right now that ISIL is actively plotting to attack the U.S. homeland," he added.Earnest said that the threat to the U.S. is "not dissimilar" to that faced by the U.K., but he also noted that there are "a relatively large number of individuals with British passports who have gone to the region," while the number of Americans who are there is "somewhat lower.""For a number of months now, we have been monitoring those individuals that have Western passports, that are citizens of Western countries, either United States or in Europe, who have made the decision to travel to Syria or take up arms alongside ISIL," Earnest said. "They Continue Reading

Homeland Security to ditch color-code terrorism alert system ending eight years of mockery

WASHINGTON - The Department of Homeland Security is junking its color-code terrorism threat alert system after eight years of mockery. The system, put in place by the Bush White House a few months after the 9/11 attacks, ranged from a safe green to "severe" red warning of imminent attack -- but was largely scrapped years ago for confusing the public. "The goal is to replace a system that communicates nothing with a partnership approach with law enforcement, the private sector and the American public that provides specific, actionable information based on the latest intelligence," said a senior Homeland Security Department official. DHS and its Transportation Security Administration have been reeling in controversy since airport screeners began intrusive physical patdowns after Al Qaeda's Yemen group almost blew up two U.S.-bound cargo planes last month with bombs disguised as printer toner cartridges. The system unveiled by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, President Bush's then-homeland security adviser, was the butt of jokes until it was shelved as a national threat advisorty system in late 2004. "The lowest level of threat is condition OFF-WHITE, followed by CREAM, PUTTY, BONE and finally NATURAL," joked comedian Darrell Hammond, portraying Ridge, in one famous Saturday Night Live skit. The DHS color code - which has been at an Orange "elevated" risk of attack for the aviation sector for years - has not been raised or lowered while the agencies dealt with threats since last Christmas Day's near-destruction of a flight over Detroit by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula underwear bomber Farouk Abdulmutallab. The threat code was raised to Red only once for two days in August 2006 - though only for air travel between the U.S. and U.K. after a liquid explosives plot to take down a dozen trans-Atlantic flights was foiled - and never dropped below a yellow "elevated" threat level. The last national Orange Alert was just before the 2004 presidential Continue Reading

Color-coded terror alert system not going away, just needs to be shorter, says panel

WASHINGTON – After a 60-day review of the nation's terror-alert system, a special task force is expected to recommend that the Obama administration keep color-coded alerts, but reduce the number of colors — or levels of risk. There are currently five colors in the coded terrorism advisories, long derided by late night TV comics and portrayed by some Democrats as a tool for Bush administration political manipulation. A bipartisan task force is expected to recommend reducing that to three colors, an official familiar with the review told The Associated Press. The official did not provide details of spoke on condition of anonymity because the results of the review have not publicly been released. The review period concludes Tuesday. Under the current system, green, at the bottom, signals a low danger of attack; blue signals a general risk; yellow, a significant risk; orange, a high risk; and red, at the top, warns of a severe threat. It was put in place after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was designed to help emergency responders get prepared. The nation has never been below the third threat level, yellow — an elevated or significant risk of terrorist attack. Though some members of the task force argued for scrapping the system altogether, that move could prove complicated because many local governments have policies and procedures triggered when the federal government changes the alert level. The task force also plans to recommend that the federal government hire people to manage the system and formalize the processes for communicating the messages to the public and first responders — something that has yet to be done, the official said. The review determined the government's decisions for raising and lowering the terror alert levels need to be more transparent. When the alert level is raised, it should be reviewed after a certain period of time. And if it is determined that the level must remain where it is, a Continue Reading

2 physicians nabbed in attacks while Brits fear Iraq-like terror

Two medical doctors are among the five suspects nabbed in three British car bomb attacks that raised the terrifying prospect of Baghdad-syle mayhem in the streets of America's closest ally. One of the men arrested after crashing a flaming Jeep into an airport terminal Saturday in Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, was identified yesterday as a Middle Eastern physician living in Britain legally. Another Middle Eastern doctor was said to be held by cops investigating the Glasgow incident as well as the discovery Friday in central London of two cars laden with gasoline, propane and nails. "These are highly educated, articulate and intelligent people," a security source told London's Evening Standard. "They are men trained to heal but they were planning unbelievable atrocities." The chilling development could indicate Al Qaeda has widened its reach to trained professionals. Although Osama Bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is an Egyptian physician, the terror group normally recruits among disaffected young people. Even though the planned terror attacks fizzled, the British people could be facing a new era of random attacks like those that rock Iraq on a daily basis. "We are dealing with a long-term threat," new Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. "It is not going to go away in the next few weeks or months." Security experts said the relatively low-tech attacks raise troubling questions about the possibility that terror groups may be shifting tactics. Instead of a few high-profile assaults, Al Qaeda may be planning waves of smaller attacks that could potentially cause more widespread fear and danger. "Al Qaeda has imported the tactics of Baghdad and Bali to the streets of the U.K.," said Lord John Stevens, Brown's terrorism adviser, referring to the 2002 and 2005 attacks on the Indonesian resort island. "The danger here is that we are entering the era of the car bomb," an intelligence source told The Independent newspaper. "It's Continue Reading