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No 'specific, credible threats' ahead of bin Laden anniversary

Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - 1:57pm

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Authorities have "no indication of any specific, credible threats or plots" against the United States as a result of the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman said Monday.

Peter Boogaard spoke nearly one year after Navy SEALs killed the al Qaeda leader during a raid on a compound in Pakistan. He died May 2, 2011.

"DHS understands that threats to our security continue to evolve. Although al Qaeda, its affiliates and allies have expressed continued interest to carry out attacks against Western interests, we have no indication of any specific, credible threats or plots against the U.S. tied to the one year anniversary of bin Laden's death," he said in a statement.

"DHS will continue to monitor intelligence reporting and respond appropriately to protect the American people from an ever-evolving threat picture, and as always, encourage the public and our partners in law enforcement and the private sector to remain vigilant in promptly reporting any suspicious activities," he added.

Boogaard was responding to an ABC report on Monday that said officials fear al Qaeda may soon try to explode aircraft bound for the United States with so-called body bombs.

Security at various airports overseas has been stepped up ahead of the anniversary, and federal air marshals have been sent abroad, ABC reported.

The DHS spokesman declined to comment on the specific security report.

Speaking before the ABC story was published, a separate law enforcement official claimed not to know of any security increases but said each locality makes its own decision.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, similarly said that there is "no intelligence to indicate a credible threat" of attack to coincide with the anniversary of bin Laden's death.

Body bombs gained worldwide attention in 2009 when al Qaeda's chief bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, built a device containing around 100 grams of PETN, a difficult-to-detect powdery explosive, that was designed to be inserted inside the rectum of a suicide bomber.

The suicide bomber was his younger brother, Abdullah al-Asiri. And their target was Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the head of Saudi counterterrorism, whose security services had driven them out of Saudi Arabia two years earlier.

Their group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was determined to show that even well-protected targets outside Yemen were not beyond their reach. In the end, the attack failed. Despite gaining entry to bin Nayef's residence by claiming to be defecting, the device killed only Abdullah al-Asiri and slightly injured the head of Saudi counterterrorism.

But even in failure, his brother and comrades were emboldened. Never had al Qaeda come so close to killing a member of the Saudi royal family.

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CNN's Carol Cratty contributed to this report.

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