By Kelli Arena and Mike Ahlers, CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Federal authorities have received a “plausible but unsubstantiated” report that al Qaeda may have discussed targeting transit systems in or around New York City, the Department of Homeland Security said.
“These discussions reportedly involved the use of suicide bombers or explosives” on subway or passenger rail trains, according to a joint DHS and FBI statement issued Tuesday.
“We have no specific details to confirm that this plot has developed beyond aspirational planning, but we are issuing this warning out of concern that such an attack could possibly be conducted during the forthcoming holiday season,” the statement said.
The uncorroborated information indicates al Qaeda may have discussed in late September targeting New York transit systems, DHS spokeswoman Laura Keener said. She said the memo was issued as a precaution so that local officials could make decisions appropriate for their areas.
While no adjustment is being made to the national threat level, she said, transit passengers in large metropolitan areas such as New York may see increased security in the days to come. That increased presence might include uniformed or plainclothes security officers, federal air marshals, canine teams and security inspectors, Keener said.
“We have no further information on the threat at this time,” the joint bulletin said.
“However, we are working closely with the U.S. intelligence community, state and local law enforcement and homeland security officials to vet and corroborate this reporting, and will continue to investigate every possible lead. We’ll provide updates as we obtain further information.”
As always, the public should remain vigilant and report suspicious activity to authorities, the statement said.